You’ve put together a roast, you have a special version of potatoes down for dinner, but what you’re really missing are a few side dishes, or salads, or salads that can double as side-dishes to save alongside. I understand this debacle and sometimes going super simple is the way to go. Red kidney beans and charred bell peppers are transformed into a gloriously acidic, yet sweet salad with the addition of pomegranate arils. There’s this complexed layered acidity to the salad which comes from using both pomegranate juice as well as lime juice in the dressing. The charred bell peppers could be either red, yellow, or orange, but please refrain from using a green capsicum here, which would yield a completely different, not necessarily unpleasant salad. The capers are a naughty addition because they bring their briny saltiness to balance out and lift everything. Since you’re adding capers, pull back on the salt and taste as you go.
The capers I used are from Ishka Farms and they’re honestly some of the best capers you can get your hands on in the country, so seek them out. They also have a caper salt (think of dry brining a roast with this) as well as different sizes of capers depending on how you’ll be using it. You’ll find them at the new Foodhall on Linking Road, or you can buy their products here. Now the balance is crucial when it comes to salads as you have gauged by my salt-acid-sweet rant above, and you can read my guide to this here.
Red Kidney Beans and Charred Bell Pepper Salad
Yield 4 servings
A simple salad of beans, fruity bell peppers that are charred, pomegranate arils and salty capers, this one looks as well as tastes festive.
Red bell peppers 3
Red kidney beans 400g, soaked overnight or 6 hours at least before being pressure cooked in salted water till tender
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
Pomegranate juice 2 tbsp
Lime juice 2 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil 45ml
Garlic 1 large clove, grated
Capers 2 tbsp, drained from their brine
Salt to taste
Char the bell peppers one by one on a naked flame over the stovetop till they are black. Transfer to a box with the lid shut and let it sit in its residual heat.
Whisk together the pomegranate juice, lime juice, EVOO and grate a clove of garlic into this dressing. Taste to check seasoning and adjust with salt, keeping in mind that capers will add a bit of salt to the salad later too.
Tip the cooked red kidney beans on a plate and proceed to peel the charred bell peppers. It’s fine if you cant get to all the black charred bits, just make sure to remove the seeds on the inside. Chop the bell peppers into long strips and add them to the red kidney beans.
Pour over the dressing and scatter over the capers. Taste the salad and adjust the salt and acidity if necessary. Keep chilled until ready to serve.