On Saturday, my street had its first neighborhood potluck in 16 years. On a decidedly steamy and buggy Missouri afternoon, we gathered in a back yard to meet newcomers and greet long-timers. Many thanks to Ed, Molly and Ellen for making it happen!
(All very neighborly, Alanna, but for the rest of us, what about the food?) Right. The food!
My contribution was a green bean salad made from fresh green beans, a welcome "whole vegetable" contrast to bowls of box-store creamy coleslaw and gloppy potato salad. My neighbors' unsolicited comments demonstrate how distinct the individual flavors remain, even as they meld together for something quite unusual:
"We loooove cilantro!"
"I taste sesame oil!"
"Oh the garlic!"
"Those nuts are delicious!"
All by themselves, the nuts are delicious, first toasted, then glazed in soy sauce – easy nibblers, for sure.
"I made the green beans last night - WE LOVED THEM! Ohhh and the nuts? My husband said he refuses to eat nuts if they aren't soy glazed from here on out." ~ La Mia Cucina
FRESH GREEN BEAN SALAD with ASIAN DRESSING
Time to table: 35 minutes
4 quarts water
2 tablespoons table salt
2 pounds fresh beans, trimmed and snapped into bite-size lengths
1/2 cup almonds, preferably slivered or sliced
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons fresh ginger
Sugar to taste (start with a teaspoon, I use a couple of tablespoons)
JUST BEFORE SERVING
Dried, cooked green beans
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions (I used chopped radishes)
BEANS Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the salt and the prepped beans, let return to a boil, cover and cook for about 5 minutes til mostly cooked but still bright green. While the beans cook, fill a large bowl with ice water. Drain beans through a colander then immerse the entire colander into the ice water until beans turn cool, just a few seconds; this is the "shock" process to halt further cooking. Drain well, the colander is plenty if there's a couple of hours time, if you're in a rush, drain the beans on double layers of paper towels, they should be moist inside but completely dry on the outside.
SOY-GLAZED ALMONDS In a small skillet, toast the almonds on MEDIUM heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often, til the almonds are beginning to turn lightly brown. Increase the heat to MEDIUM HIGH and add the soy sauce. It will boil up and the liquid will quickly evaporate, glazing the almonds with color and flavor. Stir for about a minute. Remove from the heat and let cool.
ASIAN DRESSING If using garlic and ginger from jars, whisk the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. With fresh garlic and ginger, process the dressing in a mini food processor (start with the garlic, ginger and sugar before adding the vinegar and oil).
JUST BEFORE SERVING Add the beans to the dressing and stir well to coat. (If making ahead of time, stop here and refrigerate. Stir occasionally.) Arrange on a low-rimmed platter. Just before serving, top with cilantro, green onion and almonds.
MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Cook the beans, glaze the almonds and mix the dressing ahead of time, early in the day, even a day ahead. Mix the salad and add the toppings just before serving, however.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
BRINGING OUT THE FLAVOR OF GREEN BEANS In the World's Best Green Casserole, I learned the importance of cooking beans in a lot of water with a lot of salt. The proportion is 1lb beans:2qts water:1 tablespoon table salt. It makes a world of difference!
ALMOND SHAPES I've made this salad with slivered almonds and whole almonds. For appearance's sake, I think I'd prefer slivered or sliced almonds.
BIG PLATTER This salad is best served on a large platter, this way the toppings are more spread out and can be scooped into each spoonful.
NUTRITION NOTES The inspiring recipe called for 1 tablespoon peanut oil and 1 tablespoon sesame oil, the first time I used this full measure since it was two tablespoons for two pounds of beans and my "standard" fat:vegetable proportion on A Veggie Venture. Since then, I use just a teaspoon of sesame oil and omit the rest, since the sharpness of the vinegar, garlic and ginger can hold their own against the flavor and texture of fresh beans without additional oil. The salad is sooo fresh tasting this way!
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MORE FAVORITE GREEN BEAN RECIPES~ Falling In Love with Green Beans: Favorite Recipes ~
~ Chilled Green Bean Salad with Rosemary & Garlic Oil ~
~ "Best Ever" New Potatoes & Green Beans ~
~ World's Best Green Bean Casserole ~
~ more green bean recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Green Bean Garden Salad ~
~ Eggplant & Bean Thai Curry ~
~ Make-Ahead Fresh Green Bean Casserole ~
~ more green bean recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade