As the sun is finally starting to poke it’s head out a bit more (anyone else wondering if we were just going to skip Summer this year!?), I’m starting to be a little more hopeful that we are going to have the perfect gloriously sunny Summer days that just calls out for alfresco dining and picnics galore.
I absolutely love these kinds out outings, the fresh air in your hair, the laughter echoing through the trees from other friends and family gatherings close by, the happiness, and of course, all the food. There is just something incredible about eating while being at one with nature – it calms the soul and makes the food just have an extra layer of flavour and creates the most perfect memories that you can hold on too tightly as the winter months close near. Which is why I wanted to start a brand-new summery recipe series on my blog so that you can put together your very own perfect picnic provisions, extraordinary eating alfresco accompaniments or just on the move dishes, suitable for hiking, camping or other outdoor activities.
And kicking off this series in true Rebel Recipes style – is my healthy and delicious salad made with Roast Cauliflower, Fennel and White Beans with a Roast Tomato Salsa. Both the cauliflower and fennel, which make up the main bulk of the dish are completely transformed through slow roasting which is then combined with an equally as incredible roast tomato salsa and delicious protein packed butter beans and chickpeas. And I can hear you screaming, but what about some crunch?
You’re exactly right… which is why I have topped the salad with toasted sunflower seeds which provide a great texture contrast to the soft beans. The combination of the seeds and beans makes this dish the perfect protein powered salad to keep you going all day and you can easily swap the seeds or beans out for your favourites.
Fennel is such an underrated vegetable that a lot of people are put off using it because they think the flavours are going to be too overpowering. It is known for its aniseed-like flavour but what people don’t realise is it’s actually very mild, sweet and perfumed and adds an incredible depth to a wide variety of dishes.
Think of fennel like the love child between the humble onion and a big ol’ bunch of celery. It takes all the good parts from both sides and imparts a light spring-like feel that is crunchy and aromatic when sliced thinly and eaten raw, but once cooked becomes silky and soft with crisped caramelised and jammy edges making it the perfect partner in crime for the roasted cauliflower which brings a delightful smokey and earthy flavour profile to the dish.
Roasting vegetables is my go-to for bringing out their true flavour. The roasting process deepens and concentrates their flavour; they can become sweeter and revel hidden profiles such as a nuttiness or candied-taste you might not have experienced before. Plus, roasting is a super simple technique that is perfect for an effortless mid-week dinner or when you are preparing a feast. Just pop the pan in the oven and let the biochemical reaction do all the magic.
If you are taking this dish to an external occasion and not chowing down straight away, help keep the freshness of the dish by carrying the components separate and combining once you are ready to eat. Keep the salsa in an additional Tupperware container and top and stir through just before serving. You can find out some more quick and helpful hacks in keeping your vegan dishes in tip-top shape when dining outside in this blog post here.
You can serve this dish alongside a plethora of other alfresco style dishes or serve at home with some simple flatbreads (I have a quick step by step tutorial on how to make the best effortless flatbreads here) for the ultimate Summer lunch. The flatbreads become the perfect vehicle to scoop up all that delicious flavour in one easy to eat bite.
If you like this recipe, why not give one of my other Summer Picnic Recipes a go?
My Fresh Heirloom Tomato Tart with a Crispy Walnut Baseis the perfect centre piece or picnic addition for the pastry lovers.
And for dessert nothing screams Summer than these deliciously zesty Elderflower Cupcakes with a tangy Lemon Frosting– I’ll take 3 please!
I really hope you love this delicious dish as much as I do; make sure to post and tag with @rebelrecipes #rebelrecipes if you make this dish so I can see and repost your gorgeous creations!
Did you know that I have a new cookbook?
It's called Rebel Recipes and I'm so proud of it. If you like my recipes I know you'll love my cookbook - It took me over a year to develop (and years in the making) and it's packed with deliciously vibrant veg packed recipes!
Here's a sneak peak...
Subscribe and receive a free download of my SuperSix recipe book