A colorful salad bowl with an assortment of flavors and nutrients. Fresh leaves, walnuts and cheese, crunchy pear cubes, juicy cherry tomatoes give company to adzuki beans in this recipe.
Adzuki beans are a recent discovery for me. Don’t they look like red kidney beans produced in petite size?
The first time I cooked with adzuki beans, I was struck by the openness of their flavor profile. They remind me of avocadoes: like avocadoes, adzuki beans can adapt comfortably to sweet as well as savory tones. No surprise that they are a staple in Japanese confectioneries.
Here’s a tip: adzuki beans are PERFECT for mixed salads. Other legumes of the kind – think moong or red kidney beans – have a marked taste cut out for “starring role” in salad recipes. My moong bean salad or rajma salad would have the bean play hero while other ingredients are supporting characters.
Not so with adzuki beans – these brown gems can happily share space with an ensemble cast.
[for 2 servings]
- Mixed salad leaves* – 50 grams
- Cherry tomatoes – 200 grams
- Walnut kernels – 1/4 cup
- Pears** – 1
- Feta cheese (small cubes) – 1/4 cup
- Adzuki beans*** – 1/2 cup
- Extra-virgin olive oil – 2 tablespoons
- Lime juice – 1 teaspoon
- Rock salt – to taste
- Freshly ground pepper – to taste
[*] I used an Asian mix – kale, baby spinach, baby pak choy, mizuna, red leaf.
[**] Use a crunchy variety of pear, such as the Asian pear or the Anjou.
[***] Since adzuki beans take a while to prepare, you can soak and boil a larger quantity in one go. Use only the required amount for this salad and refrigerate the rest for later.
Green leaves and pear:
Cherry tomatoes and feta cheese:
How To Make Adzuki Bean Salad with Greens, Cherry Tomatoes, Pears and Cheese:
1. Prepare the beans
Soak the adzuki beans in a 1:4 ratio of salted water for 7-8 hours. When fully soaked, the beans will swell and soften.
Drain the salted water. Rinse the beans well.
Place the washed beans in a thick-bottomed pot with salted water.
Q: How much water?
A: Enough to cover the beans by an inch.
Q: How much salt?
A: When you taste the water, it should feel salty but not overpoweringly so.
Place the pot on heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 30 minutes or till the beans are cooked through without turning pulpy.
Sieve out the cooked adzuki beans. Let them cool and refrigerate.
2. Prepare the raw ingredients
Core and chop the pear into bite sized cubes.
Wash and pat dry the salad leaves and cherry tomatoes.
Make the dressing: stir together olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.
3. Toss it all together
In a large bowl, place salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, pear cubes. Toss.
Pour the dressing mix (olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper) into the bowl. Toss again.
Add to the bowl adzuki beans, feta cheese cubes and walnut kernels.
Serve adzuki bean salad immediately after assembling.
- If you cannot get hold of adzuki beans, try kidney beans instead. Factor in a longer cooking time for kidney beans.
- You can substitute feta with ricotta or halloumi. Where I live, all of these cheeses are hard to find/prohibitively expensive. I’d normally use mozzarella or homemade paneer.
- Remember to adjust the salt in the salad dressing if you substitute the cheese. Feta is very salty, mozzarella mildly so, paneer not at all unless you have added salt while making it.
All lapped up!