Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mung Bean Salad with Celery, Apple and Cashews

As news from Boston reach Switzerland I could not help but think of Oslo, July 2011. 2011 I went on holidays with my parents and two of my siblings, and for 2 weeks we toured Norway and Sweden in a camper. This was the first time in years that I went away with them, and all in all we had a really lovely time. Great weather, the two countries are beautiful and I enjoyed spending time with the family.

We started in Oslo, and returned on July 22, in the afternoon, for a night there before we were going to travel back home. Around 3 p.m. my little brother, my mother and I were dropped off in front of our hotel and my father and my sister went out to return our camper to a place outside of the city. Half an hour later there was an explosion, close enough and strong enough to make our building shake. There was smoke, a little fire, too, that we could see from our hotel room window.
For 30 minutes we tried to search for information about what had happened. We wished that it was just an accident, a gas tank that exploded, anything other than a planned attack. We turned on the TV, switching between different Norwegian channels until after what felt like an eternity different newspapers and channels started talking about a probable attack. 
At this point we tried to reach my father and sister, who we knew would be okay but who still had to get back into the city, and Michael, who knew we were supposed to be in Oslo that night.
Being there in Oslo, so close to the attack, even though we knew we were safe was really scary. When I hear of these attacks in the news, they do touch me, but only the experience in Oslo brought to my awareness that this could happen anywhere, anytime, and to me, too.
That night, we left the hotel to have something to eat, at the nearest place possible. It was there, over pizza, that we saw what heard of a shooting outside of Oslo. It took a while longer to news reaching us properly.

We left Oslo the next day. It rained like crazy, and I remember very clearly my father wanting to buy tickets for the tramway and the driver just letting us in, without a ticket. It felt so significant that day, as if he wanted to say that these things did not matter right at that moment. My sister and I then continued to travel to Stockholm and Kopenhagen on our way back home, we had planned our trip like that, but the only thing I could think of was that I wanted to be back home, and hug Michael.
In moments like this one, when you feel your mortality, and you realize that actually you are never truly safe, you just want to be with the people that matter the most to you.
But then life continues, and the shock of being close to such an attack wears off. We are not eternally grateful to have been save this time. Only when I hear of similar events do those feelings come back a little, and I try and hug the people I love a little thighter. I hope you and your families and friends are all safe. Not just this week.

And because we can't worry forever, I have a salad recipe I want to share with you. This is the kind of dinner I make for myself when I am alone at home. A single salad, if you will. Ideally, it feeds me twice. I used mung beans here, because I had those on hand and usually don't know what to do with them. They somehow taste a little fresher than lentils, a little grassy maybe. But if you don't have mung beans on hand, I'd suggest substituting equal parts Puy lentils for the beans. The apple and celery provide crunch and a little sweetness, and the roasted chashews make this salad taste almost as if there was cheese in it. Or maybe that is just me. But the cashews are really important in this salad, I would not leave them out. Add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and papper and a little lemon zest, and you got yourself a lovely dinner or lunch.

Mung Bean Salad with Celery, Apple and Cashews

1/2 cup dry mung beans
3 ribs celery, sliced thinly
1 apple, siced thinly
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
olive oil, salt, pepper
1/4 cup cashews

Cook the mung beans in enough water until soft, about 30 minutes. Add a teaspoon of salt to the cooking water and 2 laurel leaves and a few sprigs of thyme, if you have some on hand. Drain and set aside
In the mean time, slice the celery and the apple and dress them with the lemon juice and zest to keep them from browning.
Toast the cashews in a skillet over medium heat. Keep a close eye on them, you do not want to burn them (too much). A little burnt is still good, though. Give them a quick shake every once in a while to ensure even browning. Once toasted, remove from heat and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, mix the cooked mung beans, dressed celery and apple. Drizzle a little olive oil over the salad, add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle the cashews over the whole thing.

Serves 2, or 1 for dinner and lunch the next day.


  1. Lena, thanks for sharing your experience in Oslo in 2011. It's strange; my brother-in-law is Norwegian and was in Oslo at the time, and even that was enough to jolt me into being reminded that these things are always much closer than we think. I can't imagine the emotions you must have been feeling! As horrific and awful as these events are, at least some good comes out of them though -- we're reminded of how important it is to value those we love (and even those we don't love or don't know).

    And I love how this salad sounds. It's exactly the type of thing I like to eat when I'm alone for lunch or dinner.

  2. Lena, the salad sounds great. It's been a long time since I've cooked any mung beans (I wasn't sure how I felt about them the last time), but they sound very appealing from the way that you've described them.

    It's always so jarring when something like this happens. It's hard to reconcile the fact that it happened to people just going about their daily routines with the fact that you can't do much except go about your own daily routine. But what are you to do except hug the people you love tighter? You've got that right, Lena.