Quite a few things that have been on my radar of late inspired this salad. First is the cookbook “Grown and Gathered” that my husband and I are obsessed with. Half of the book is about sustainable farming and living while the remaining half covers preserves, sprouting, soaking, culturing and recipes. Its pretty reasonable to say that my husband devoured every page of the first part of the book then skipped over the recipes, while I skipped over reading the gardening knowing that he will take care of that (I kill everything I grow) and poured over the recipe section instead.
Its not like I haven't seen recipes for soaking, sourdough cultures and so on before. I think the reason these recipes spoke to me in particular was because of the lifestyle that was behind the people writing the book. It set off a hunger in my husband and I, as this lifestyle is everything that we are aspiring to in our next steps.
You see once this house of ours is finally finished with its renovations we are straight back to Italy for another long holiday, then we are picking up and moving to the Yarra Valley in Victoria. Why? Because it holds our dreams. The move will entail two big things. One is creating our own (as much as possible) self sustainable plot in an area that is brimming with outstanding produce and two, we will with lots of elbow grease and I am sure a few tears finally swing open the doors to our cafe.
In short, the cafe will be a combination of both of our passions. It's under wraps of course as far as me telling you all the nitty gritty, but I can definitely say that it will be a place where my recipes will come alive on the plate for people to eat on a lazy weekend. Nothing gives me greater pleasure of late than to visualise standing in the middle of the cafe almost hearing the hum of voices and the smelling the aroma's coming from the kitchen. At times the sensation is so strong it stops me in my tracks.
Of course I am shit scared, but big change is scary and that is not going to stop either of us. We know we will have an abundance of help from the people we love (hint hint) and the thought of creating the lifestyle that speaks to our hearts is too much to ignore.
Dishes like this summer salad are a celebration of this type of lifestyle for me. This salad first off embraces seasonal produce, but secondly celebrates the slower paced methods of preparing ingredients. For me the real joy comes from soaking and preparing the chickpeas, soaking and sprouting the mung beans and even soaking and then preparing the brown rice. Of course you don't have to do all (or any) of these steps. Not everyone wants to move to the country and spend his or her days culturing sourdough - I get that. So please feel free to take the shorter road and use the pre prepared options if you like.
Before I sign off, I forgot to mention the second reason for this salad. Also of recent my husband has been going through an internal struggle with the amount of meat he consumes. We buy our meat from a free-range butcher, but at the end of the day he does eat meat every day, often twice a day including lunch left overs. For us it’s more about the sustainability of this and the fact that we are not eating the entirety of an animal, just parts.
Because he doesn't do things by halves, he has decided to give going vegan a go for a week. Just a week though. This isn't about a lifestyle change to veganism. It’s about getting an idea of food outside the box of meat protein. It's also a chance for me to share with you all his journey (although he will be certainly voicing his own opinion) and show how eating vegan should be done in regards to maintaining a balanced intake of food.
Consequently, this summer salad is not only delicious as a side dish but contains all the right ingredients to make it a vegan meal on its own. Happy eating!
Note: If you have issues with legumes then I suggest pre-soaking your own chickpeas instead of using canned ones. I use the method found in "Grown & Gathered" Cookbook which you can find online here. Allow yourself a full day for soaking and 4 hours of simmering your chickpeas if using this technique.
To make the salad simply combine all of the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl. If cooking your rice for the salad fresh, I suggest making extra so you have left overs for other recipes as cooking just this small amount would be tricky. I usually cook up a cup of brown rice in 2 cups of water and use the abpsorption method. This takes around 30 minutes.
To make the dressing combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well, not forgetting to season. When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the salad and mix well.
This salad can be served as a dish on its own or as a side dish to your favourite protein.