I love dishes that feature the various shades of a single colour, making you stop to check what's in there. Spring and early summer are the time to do this with green, as now we have artichoke, rocket, asparagus, broad beans, watercress, samphire, peas, cabbage, all kinds of lettuce, runner beans, broccoli, spring onion, chard, spinach and many, many more to choose from. When you put a few of these in one bowl, you get the most glorious celebration of colour and spring.
300g asparagus, trimmed and sliced on a sharp angle into 3-4 thin spears
200g french beans, topped
300g broad beans (fresh or frozen)
50g baby spinach leaves
1 shallot, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 red chilli, finely diced
½ tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp nigella seeds
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch the asparagus for two to four minutes, depending on thickness – you don't want them cooked to very soft. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice-cold water. Add the french beans to the boiling water, blanch for five minutes and transfer to the asparagus bowl. Drain both well, then dry with a clean kitchen towel. Blanch the broad beans in the same water for two minutes, drain, refresh and dry, then remove and discard the skins by pressing each bean gently between finger and thumb.
- Put all the greens in a large bowl and add all the remaining ingredients and half a teaspoon of salt. Stir gently, taste, add more salt if you like, and serve at once.