Quick, Easy, Amazing – Sweet Red Cabbage, Cashew & Fruity Bean Salad

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So. It’s Saturday, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve been spending these precious hours off so far finessing the art of balance between hedonism and total inactivity. The workweek still seems relatively far away and there are no problems on the horizon, as far as you’re concerned. Bring on the chocolate martinis. We’re done with the 9 to 5 for now.

Actually, you know what would work really, really well with chocolate martinis? These. In other news – I should definitely invent my own take on a chocolate martini. The folks at this lovely place probably have the ingredients for that – I’ll go visit ’em. Stay posted.

KittenA perfectly appropriate demonstration of required weekend activity 

Back to business – it’s the weekend. Like it or not, there’s a work week looming ahead. Work days necessitate energy, which necessitates breaks, which necessitate really deadly food and the right combination of just enough of the good stuff to keep you going until the commute back home. Lunch hour is our saving grace. If only it didn’t have to mean pulling out our wallets five days a week.

Yeah, yeah – I know. We’re young and ridiculous – shouldn’t be thinking about saving a fiver on a takeout roll & wedges. Just give me a minute here. Let’s do some maths. Lunch from the shops, cafes and delis near you,  – that’s at least a fiver each time, optimistically, right? Twenty five quid a week, optimistically.

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That, like. Adds up, and stuff. 

Damn, y’all. You know what twenty five yoyos does in double-dip recession Ireland? That’s an early bird menu price at a lovely new place you’ve been meaning to try a while. It’s about two and a half cocktails in The Porterhouse (ahem.) It’s a long way towards the cute blouse you found online that’s totally a good talking point for a job interview.

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It’s half the money to get a pair of sparkly converse with HIDDEN TIGERS. Come on, y’all.

See what I mean? …Why not…save a little money with your daytime food?

So – to my point. Doing nothing on the weekends is glorious. But by doing slightly more than very little, in terms of getting to cook amazing things and have fun in the kitchen, you can make yourself lunches for all five working days ahead, save yourself a bunch of money for pretty/useful/shiny things, and gain added benefits of feeling healthier, looking well and bragging rights about your creativity and/or organisation skills with your lunch mates.

Why not, right? Here’s what it involves. Note that some of my ingredients are technically expensive – I dodged that fact sheerly because they were already in my cupboard or fridge, as snacks, leftovers and long unused odds and ends. In other words – don’t use this recipe list as bible if you don’t want to, and dig through your cupboard to see what you probably have anyway. Surprise yourself!

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Get your reading glasses on. It’s time to follow a recipe and some good advice…

My suggested combination is amazingly good though. Just saying. Teaming nuts, fruit and beans together – so, so good. The tropical sweetness and zing of sugary dried fruit, the dense, creamy bite of butter beans, the fresh green zing of vegetables, the perfect crunch of a cashew and the deep silky beauty of stir-fried noodles & cabbage – mmmmmmm.

Why not?

TIME: Saturday Evening/Sunday Morning

ENERGY LEVELS: Minimal

NECESSARY ACCESSORY STUFF:

Simple, Click-Fast Lunch Boxes x 5

Assortment of Pots, Pans

INGREDIENTS:

Glugs of Peanut Oil for frying

One Head of Red Cabbage, Chopped/Shredded

2 Tbsp Cinnamon

White Vinegar

4 Heaped Tbsp Tomato Paste

Two heads Broccoli, Chopped to Florets

250g Whole Fresh Green Beans & Baby Corn

500g Noodles (of choice)

100g Cashew Nuts

100g Dried Sweet Papaya/Pineapple/Apricot

600g Butter Beans, Tinned

Soy Sauce

OPTIONAL ADD-INS/ACCESSORIES:

Chopped Grilled Chicken/Beef (weekend leftovers are IDEAL – don’t bin ’em!)

Pitta Breads (for stuffing your hot salad into – because creating variety is always good)

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RECIPE:

– Oil a large, iron-cast pan and allow it to come to a moderate heat before depositing in all your chopped cabbage. Add generous amounts of vinegar & all that damned cinnamon. It works, honestly – in terms of taste and colour, it’s just ridiculously good. When this has all simmered down and the cabbage is softening, add the tomato paste, lid your pot and turn down the heat to low. Leave to simmer a further 10 to 15 minutes.

– Steam your broccoli, green beans and baby corn. If you have a  decent sized bowl, you can do this all at once in a microwave. Otherwise, there’s loads of methods to steam that could work for you 🙂 Drain when cooked to your liking.

– Boil your noodles, as per the package directions. When they’re done, drain ’em and tip em into the cabbage mix and stir through. Set aside the entire mix to cool.

– Dose up those five clip seal boxes with the cabbage-noodles and steamed veg. Sprinkle over equal amounts of tinned butter beans, chopped fruit & cashews. Doesn’t it look pretty? Like Jewels! Admire your handiwork. Call over nearby apathetic flatmates/significant others to admire. Take photos.

– Add a splash of Soy Sauce to each box. Clip lids over, leave to stand and cool before placing in the fridge for the week ahead – they’ll keep for up to seven days after creation on the proviso that your fresh ingredients were relatively fresh and your fridge is more than halfway decent.

– Escort lunch to work each day with pitas, fruit, cheese, or whatever the hell else might take your fancy.

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Spend the rest of your weekend chilling and hanging out with cute dogs, safe in the knowledge you’ve got money to do whatever you want with by this time five days forward. Enjoy!

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