Mediterranean bean salad

Mediterranean bean salad

The Mediterranean diet has been getting lots of media attention over the last few days since a study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found that out of 1,880 elderly people who were studied for over five years, those who closely adhered to a Mediterranean diet had a 40 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who didn’t follow a Mediterranean diet.

Several other studies over the last few years have also shown that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and improve cognitive function, so the Mediterranean bean salad I’m going to present to you today — which uses a wide range of classic Mediterranean ingredients — could quite easily be described as “brain food.”

However this salad is equally as good for your heart. That’s because beans are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which helps reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and in turn lowers the risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber also slows down digestion and helps regulate blood sugars, so it helps you stay fuller for longer too.

But to be honest I don’t love this salad because of its health benefits — although that’s a very nice bonus. I love this salad because it tastes absolutely scrumptious! And have you ever seen a more colorful salad? The vivid green of the fava beans and the vibrant red of the peppers and purple of the onions contrast so well with the dark Kalamata olives and neutral hues of the cannellini beans and chickpeas.

You can serve this salad at room temperature, and it tastes equally as good warmed up and served with a little crumbled feta and some crusty bread.

Mediterranean bean salad
Serves 4
A vibrantly colored mix of beans, diced vegetables and chopped olives coated in a tangy olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing.
2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon superfine (caster) sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ garlic clove — minced
2 cups frozen fava (broad) beans
1 cup canned cannellini beans — rinsed and drained
1 cup canned chickpeas — rinsed and drained
6 Kalamata olives — finely chopped
½ red pepper — finely diced
¼ small red onion — finely diced
COOK the fava beans in rapidly boiling water for 4 minutes, then rinse under cold water. REMOVE the leathery outer skin from the fava beans and discard. PUT the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, oregano, parsley and garlic in a screw-top jar and shake until well combined. PLACE the beans, olives, red pepper, and onion in a large bowl, then toss with the dressing until well combined.