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 great 'whole vegetable' contrast to bowls of creamy coleslaw and 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" and "I taste sesame oil" & "Oh the garlic!" and "Those nuts are delicious".
All by themselves, the nuts are delicious, first toasted, then glazed in soy sauce -- easy nibblers, for sure.
FRESH GREEN BEAN SALAD with ASIAN DRESSING
Time to table: 2 hours
4 quarts water
2 tablespoons table salt
2 pounds fresh beans, trimmed and snapped into bite-size lengths
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (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.) Add 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 into the ice water (this is the 'shock' process to halt further cooking) until cool. Drain well. (I let these drain for a couple of hours. If you're in a rush, drain on double layers of paper towels. The beans should be moist but completely dry on the outside.)
1/2 cup almonds (I used chopped almonds, the inspiring recipe suggested whole almonds which I think would be quite good if done whole, then chopped)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
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.
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (this I think would be perfect, the inspiring recipe called for 1 tablespoon peanut oil and 1 tablespoon sesame oil)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic (from a jar unless you insist otherwise ...)
2 teaspoons fresh ginger (also from a jar, I love this stuff!)
Sugar to taste (start with a teaspoon)
Whisk the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onions (I used chopped radishes)
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.
Next time, I would serve the beans from a platter so the nuts and cilantro could be more spread out and scooped into each spoonful. I might also add a touch of sugar to the dressing.
NUTRITION NOTES I used the full measure of oil specified by the inspiring recipe since it was two tablespoons for two pounds of beans and my 'standard' fat:vegetable proportion on A Veggie Venture. But next time, for flavor, I will use a teaspoon, omit the rest of the oil - I think it will be fine, maybe better even, since the sharpness of the vinegar, garlic and ginger can hold their own against the flavor and texture of fresh beans.
SALAD EXTRAVAGANZA This salad recipe is my contribution to the Salad Extravaganza happening this month at La Mia Cucina and Sass & Veracity. It promises to be a great collection of perfect summer salads!
~ garlicky romano beans ~
~ Fresh Three-Bean Salad ~
~ green beans cooked in a skillet ~
~ more green bean recipes ~