Mung bean salad with flowers and wild herbs: spring in your dish
Time: prep. 10 minutes
cook. 10 minutes
Difficulty: very easy
Yields: 2 portions
When the days start to get warmer, a rich mung bean salad becomes my favourite dish: nutrient-rich, very easy to prepare, cheap, pretty filling and last but not least, refreshing.
I go running in the countryside near my house, where I find many wild herbs and flowers, some of which are edible. So as well as nourishing the senses with their rainbow colours and scents, I try to nourish the body too; in fact I hardly ever go back home empty-handed: laurel, sage, purslane, borage, juniper, sow thistles, ribwort plantain, dandelion, sea beets, vine leaves, chicory, nettle, wild mustard, linden blossom and leaves, mallow leaves and flowers, berry blossom and many more, depending on the season and geography.
Basically, nothing new under the sun: we used to be gatherers, and now we are simply discovering ourselves again! Today, this atavistic practice, which is deeply rooted in all of us, has a very trendy name: ‘foraging’ or ‘wildcrafting’.
In Italy, exploring the woods and countryside for wild herbs and flowers, but also for bulbs, stems, tubers, roots, berries or tree bark to use as a food resource is considered a science, alimurgy. Since it is a scientific field, it requires knowledge and a certain amount of experience: any mistakes could cost your health.
Never venture out if you haven’t properly studied it beforehand; an important source could be the local elders, who always know almost everything, or at least refer to some digital application such as PlantNet or Herbarium; in any case, only gather if you are 100% certain that you are not bringing home something poisonous! And please don’t destroy the roots, use a knife to allow the plant to re-born.
Using edible wild herbs and flowers in the kitchen instead of industrially cultivated vegetables not only provides us with economic benefits but also reduces our possible intake of pesticide residues.
It is not always possible to find truly organic rocket or lettuce, so ‘foraging’ applied to a hike to recharge the batteries is doubly useful.
The mung bean salad I am proposing today (you can make it with any other legume: chickpeas, beans, lentils, etc., or any other vegetable), actually is much more than a salad. Combined with a slice of home-made whole wheat sourdough bread (read the recipe here) you get the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Mallow, as well as giving a truly spring-like colour to the dish, thanks to its emollient properties, can be useful against inflammation of the throat, pharynx, larynx, as well as the bladder or intestines; also for irritation of the esophagus, gastric and duodenal ulcers.
Behind its bitterish taste, which is appreciated by many, the dandelion (or dandelion) hides a cupboard of medicines (it is not called Taraxacum officinalis for nothing): it is a pal of the liver, due to its ability to increase the production of bile and stimulate bile flow; its rich content of flavonoids and potassium stimulates diuresis and is therefore also a good anti-cellulite; but the reason why I use it in combination with legumes is different: It is considered extremely useful for digestive disorders including slow digestion, the sensation of fullness and the nightmare of many bean eaters, flatulence!
As these wild herbs are important nutraceuticals, if you are taking medication, please consult your doctor before going any further.
Ingredients for the Mung Bean Salad
150 grams of the legume of your choice (I chose mung beans, already cooked and cooled)
1 medium beetroot (already boiled and seasoned with garlic and vinegar)
A handful of wild herbs including mallow, dandelion and wild rocket (choose the younger ones to avoid bitterness)
1 small, finely chopped red onion (if you have to eat it at work, better to avoid it)
2 tablespoons of chopped almonds (or other nuts)
the juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons of evo oil
a few edible flowers
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar of Modena (I use pomegranate molasses)
salt to taste
To quickly prepare this wonderful Mung Bean Salad, you need legumes that are already cooked and cooled. So if your freezer isn’t full of them, postpone the recipe until the next day: you don’t really have to buy pre-cooked pulses, you just need a bit of organisation to have them on hand, paying less and being more sustainable. So take my advice, always cook large quantities for the next time.
If you are a member of the dry pulses club like me, you already know how to deal with them!
For those of you who don’t know where to start, here is the correct way of preparation.
The legumes, after a visual check and a quick wash, should be soaked for at least 12 hours (I leave them for 24 hours or more) for the reasons explained here, changing the soaking water every 4-8 hours. Then cook them very well: I use a pressure cooker combined with passive cooking to reduce energy consumption and be more sustainable (you can read more about this here).
Similarly, the beetroot should also be already cooked and cold. Marinating the beetroot in its own cooking water for 1-4 hours, with 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar and a chopped garlic, can only add to the flavour of this iron-rich Mung Bean Salad.
Wash the wild herbs and edible flowers well. To take advantage of the emollient properties of the mallow leaves and flowers, due to the presence of mucilage, leave them to soak for a few hours – clearly not compulsory, just an extra tip.
Finely chop the red onion, crush the almonds or other nuts you have decided to use, cut the carrot into dices and finally combine all the ingredients in a large salad bowl.
Mix the lemon juice, olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a little salt in a separate container and dress the Mungo bean salad, serving it without wasting time… and vitamins.
Enjoy your meal and good revolution to all