Lobio (Georgian Kidney Bean Salad)

I've had a strange fascination with Georgia for some time. Why strange? Because really I don't know anything about the country at all! But, in 2007 they entered Eurovision for the first time with this incredible song (watch it!) by Sopho. I love the Eurovision meets Bjork style, I loved her stunning red dress (which continues it's detail on her back and arm!) and, hey, you can't go wrong when there are men dancing with swords. I loved this song so much that I immediately decided that I loved Georgia and wanted to go there. Such is the powder of Eurovision! So, Georgia has a special place in my heart - even though I know next to nothing about it except that the capital Tbilisi. Sadly, I haven't yet had the chance to travel there to find out more, but recently I got an email from a reader requesting Georgia as a featured country on my world food challenge. I couldn't have been happier, in fact I was so excited by the idea that I moved it up the list in front of some other countries which had been requested earlier (sorry, other countries but the heart wants what the heart wants!).

Just in case you've never heard of this tiny country, here is what it looks like:

So what did I learn about Georgia? Well, one thing was that finding vegetarian dishes was a piece of cake, there was loads of them. So I had a really fun and easy time putting together a savoury menu for Georgia and it was all really delicious. The sweets I found harder, I only found one or two at all on the internet so had a much more limited sweets menu. I'd love to hear from some Georgians if you have a wonderful traditional dessert that I missed!

I also learned that the cornerstone of many of their dishes was walnuts! There were walnuts in everything, sweet and savoury! There also seems to be a lot of kidney beans in the savoury dishes, so I ate my fair share of them this month.

This first recipe I'm sharing with you brings both of those ingredients together, it's a typical Georgian salad called Lobio. It makes a great cold weather salad as well as warm weather, because of the lovely cooked beans and the warming hint of chilli. It's perfect for a potluck but is also great spooned into a salad wrap or piled on your veggie burger, it's just very versatile and a great source of protein.

Lobio (Georgian Kidney Bean Salad)

1 1/2 cups dried kidney beans, soaked for 48 hours and drained
1/2 Spanish onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño chilli, finely minced (you can remove the insides if you want it milder)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
1/3 cup walnuts, broken into small pieces
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

To Make
1. Place the kidney beans in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the beans are just tender. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside to cool and dry out.
2. While the beans are drying you can prepare all your other ingredients. Combine the Spanish onion, chilli, garlic, coriander, walnuts and kidney beans in a bowl.
3. Place the vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper in a jar, put the lid on and shake until well combined. Pour this dressing over the bean salad and stir well to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste (add more salt, pepper, coriander or garlic to taste).
4. Serve garnished with walnuts and fresh coriander (optional).

Serves 4-6.

This month I'm featuring recipes from Georgia.
Check out my other Georgian recipe posts:

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