MACKEREL & SUNDRIED TOMATO BEAN SALAD

Mackerel & Sundried Tomato Bean Salad.

While I am a city boy to my core and despite being born and bred in the South Wales Valleys surrounded by mountains and sheep, I am often reluctant to eating outdoors. I am not the ‘let’s have a picnic’ person. I freeze up when confronted with eating – or sleeping – outdoors. However, my friends and I are prone to the odd country and forest escape – against my good will and testament – but no matter what the situation, as a group of friends we are very socially equipped to come prepared with food to suit every occasion.

This salad is perfect for picnic situations. I recall us once planning a nice picnic in a beautiful park in Cardiff but due to the tempestuous weather in Wales, rain poured down on our parade. Never one to turn down an eating situation, the picnic then took place in my own living room where we still ate like Picnic Kings, and this recipe here is something you can whip out at such an occasion.

My heed of warning for this recipe however is to only serve to those with a food mind set similar to your own. There are some strong, shameless and gutsy flavours in this salad that would test the nerve of anybody that dare it. I wouldn’t recommend whipping this out at a picnic of fussy eaters however a fussy eater I am not and therefore relish in such a culinary offering.

I remember giving this to an ex-partner of mine who had the stomach of an old boot and would eat anything I cooked – one of my favourite qualities in a person – and suffice to say this recipe went down and a treat and was often served alongside any meat dish (minus the mackerel).

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Drain a big can of butter beans and rinse under the tap before transferring to a big bowl. Be mindful – if your canned chickpeas are slightly hard, you may want to warm them slowly in a pan until they have lost their initial bite before allowing to cool. Now roughly chop some sundried tomatoes and add to the bowl along with ½ a tablespoon of the sundried tomato oil from the jar they came in.

Drain a can of mackerel and break up with a fork before adding to the bowl of beans. This also works with some freshly cooked mackerel but time was ticking and I didn’t want to stink out my house that particular day for reasons I’ll keep to myself. Grate over some orange zest along with a small teaspoon of hot English mustard and a generous rip of parsley (or coriander – your preference). Then sprinkle in a teaspoon of smoked sea salt. Any sea salt will be fine but I love the subtle hit of smokiness with the smoked kind. Turn everything around with a spoon and serve.

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As you can see from the flavours here, this will be a recipe for those with an acquired taste but for those I have chosen to serve it to, it has always gone down well. Particularly in a picnic style situation. Even if you are huddled around a dining table because the weather in your country is absolute trash. Like I said, omit the mackerel in this recipe and it’s actually a lovely accompaniment to a meat dish as a potato substitute. I have also made a bowl of this just for myself and consumed it with a spoon whilst watching garbage TV but that’s my business, not yours.

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