Belinda Jeffery

Warm Salad Of Prawns, Grilled Capsicums And Beans

There is something very special about this simple salad of sweet grilled capsicums and briny prawns. The flavours intermingle in the most satisfying way, and it’s such a lovely dish for this in-between time of year when the weather runs hot then cold. The only thing I ever serve with it are chunks of good bread to blot up every last skerrick of the juices.

  • Serves 4


  • 3 large red capsicums (peppers)
  • 200g baby green beans
  • 2 x 300g cans butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 large red onion, very finely sliced
  • Big squeeze of *lemon juice, to taste
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded basil
  • 140ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 80g **unsalted butter
  • 1kg uncooked prawns, peeled and de-veined, tails left on
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Lemon wedges, to garnish
  • * Sometimes I use a splash of fig vinegar instead of the lemon juice and it’s very good too.
  • ** If possible use continental (also called cultured) unsalted butter as it has a particularly delicious flavour.

Preheat your grill to high, and line the grill tray with foil.

Slice the capsicums down their natural contour lines into large pieces, then remove the cores, seeds and white ribs. Sit the pieces of capsicum, skin-side up, in a single layer on the prepared grill tray. Slide the tray under the grill and cook the capsicums until the skins blister and blacken. As soon as they do, remove the tray and cover the capsicums completely with a heavy tea towel (you can also transfer them to a plate and cover them tightly with plastic film.) Leave the capsicums to sweat for a few minutes. As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, peel away and discard the skins. Slice a third of the pieces into fine strips and very finely chop the rest.

Trim the stalks only from the green beans – I always leave the curly tails intact as I think the beans look much nicer with them on. Cook the beans in a large saucepan of rapidly boiling, salted water until they’re still nice and green but cooked through – I find the only way to check properly is to scoop one out, blow on it like crazy for a few moments and then take a bite. As soon as they’re ready, drain them and immediately plunge them into iced water to set their bright green colour. When they’re cool, wrap them in a tea towel to dry.

Now make a salad with the butter beans by mixing them with the garlic, onion slices, lemon juice, salt, pepper, basil, 1/4 cup (60ml)of the extra virgin olive oil, and the capsicums that you cut into strips. Set the salad aside while you cook the prawns.

Heat the butter and remaining oil in a wide, heavy-based frying pan over high heat. Add the prawns and sauté them for a couple of minutes until they’re just cooked. Stir in the chilli, smoked paprika and reserved chopped capsicums, warm them through, then remove the pan from the heat. Taste the mixture and add more salt or a splash of lemon juice, if needed.

To serve, sit a small pile of the green beans on each plate and spoon some of the bean salad over the top. Keep adding a few more beans, then a bit more salad until they are both used up. Scoop the prawn and capsicum mixture over the top, garnish with lemon wedges, if using, and serve the salad straight away.