A classic Vietnamese favourite, full of leafy greens and a hearty beef based broth.
"This is the kind of meal that's ideal for those sunny evenings when you just want to cook something quick but delicious, grab a glass of chilled wine and enjoy eating in the garden with company. I've dressed the prawns and beans in salsa verde, but basil oil, another of my quick go-to ingredients, would also be fantastic. To give the prawns the best, juiciest, charred flavour, I always cook them quickly in a smoking-hot pan. So if you are outside, throwing them on the barbeque would be nice too." - Jessica Elliott Dennison.
1 Tbs olive oil
325g unpeeled raw Tiger prawns
150g wild rocket (arugula)
1 large fennel bulb (ideally with a few fronds still intact)
400g tin cannellini beans in water, rinsed and drained
1 serving salsa verde
4 slices sourdough bread
King prawns, calamari, crayfish in shells or scallops in shells.
Butter beans, chickpeas or green lentils.
Watercress, lamb's lettuce or frisée.
If you want to de-vein the prawns, cut along the back with a sharp pair of scissors then lift out and discard the black vein with the tip of a knife.
First, heat a large frying pan over a high heat for 2–3 minutes until smoking. Rub the oil over the prawns and cook for 4–5 minutes in a single layer until pink and gaining a nice charred colour. (Turn the prawns halfway through cooking and cook in two batches if they don’t all fit in your pan in a single layer). Set aside on a plate.
Next, wash the rocket in a basin of cold water, pat dry then set aside. Slice the fennel lengthwise as thinly as you can (discard the core and reserve any leafy fronds). A mandolin is handy for achieving really thin slices.
Scatter the rocket, beans and fennel over a large platter, spoon over 2 1/2 tablespoons of salsa verde then gently, using your hands, toss to lightly coat. Scatter over the prawns and reserved fennel fronds then place the remaining salsa verde in a nice dish for people to help themselves to.
Take the bread, lots of napkins and some side plates for peeling the prawns at the table.
Credits: This is an edited extract from Salad Feasts by Jessica Elliott Dennison published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $29.99 and is available in stores nationally.
Photo Credits: Matt Russell.