Around here, cookbooks spill off shelves, stack up on the floor, rest on the coffee table waiting for a look-see. Long-ago favorites take up shelf space in a guest room. The sentimental favorites are the church-style cookbooks of my grandmother's and mother's generation. I shake my head when paging through the so-called "salad" section. You know what's coming, right? All the recipes call for a box of Jello. A third call for cream cheese, a third for mayonnaise and the remaining third get topped with Cool Whip or Dream Whip. (Hey! What happened to Dream Whip? I suppose it was too much work, you had to, you know, actually 'whip' it, just like real cream.) And don't even mention the prevalence of cans of pineapple tidbits and maraschino cherries ...
For Christmas, I wanted to create:
A red and green salad, festive in appearance and able to compete with the prettiest Christmas cookie platter
Made ahead and served cold (though I love this warm, too), perfect for holiday buffets and casual Christmas potlucks
Most of all, a healthy salad, a guilt-free addition to holiday tables.
But my red and green salad is just a start, once you start to consider the possibilities for healthy green bean salads. I haven't made these, but the concept just might spur your own imagination.
Stir in or top with toasted walnuts or pecans.
Skip the tomatoes, stir in chunks of good feta and bacon.
Substitute slivers of roasted or sautéed red pepper for the tomatoes.
Stir in bits of goat cheese, drizzle with a cranberry vinaigrette (a little cranberry sauce, mustard, good vinegar, a little olive oil).
Toss with lime juice, lime zest and dried cranberries or sour cherries.
Toss with lemon juice, lemon zest and Parmesan shavings.
I could go on, but how would you make a healthy green bean salad?
RECIPE for HEALTHY RED & GREEN GREEN-BEAN SALAD
Time to table: 25 minutes
Serves 8 in full-size supper servings, more for smaller buffet-style servings
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons table salt
2 pounds fresh green beans, washed well, stem ends snapped (see TIPS)
1 tablespoon olive oil (butter isn't recommended, it gets a little gloppy when the salad is chilled)
1 bunch green onion, trimmed and chopped into rounds, white and green parts both (save a few green parts for garnish)
8 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of dried basil
Pinch of dried dill
Generous salt & pepper
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
Chopped green onion (the green parts only)
Chopped fresh parsley
BEANS Bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and stir a bit to dissolve. Add the beans, cover and let cook at a slow simmer for about 6 minutes or until fully cooked but still bright green. Drain in a colander and drop into ice water to stop the cooking and cool down. Drain well.
TOMATOES In a large pot, heat the olive oil until shimmery on MEDIUM HIGH. Add the green onion and tomatoes, stir to coat with fat. Add the sugar, dried basil and dried dill. Let cook, stirring occasionally (not too often, you'll break up the tomatoes) until the tomatoes begin to pop. Stir in the 1/4 cup fresh parsley, stir a minute until just barely cooked. Stir in the cooked green beans.
TO SERVE Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with green onion and fresh parsley. Refrigerate until ready to serve but let warm to room temperature to serve.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
If cutting the beans with a knife or fork won't be practical (at a party where people eat while standing or with plates on their laps, say), you might want to cut them into bite-size lengths, saving full-length green beans for a sit-down dinner.
~ Red & Green Warm Spinach Salad ~
~ Broccoli & Tomato Holiday Wreath ~
~ more green bean recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Bodacious Brussels Sprouts ~
~ Apple Yogurt Salad ~
~ Winter Fruit Salad ~
~ Holiday Fruit Parfait with
Yogurt, Cranberries, Applesauce, Pineapple & Kiwi ~
~ more Christmas recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
I do think that the new points system is fabulous – it will help guide our food decisions to better healthy choices, pointing us to fruits and vegetables, lean meats and other proteins, non-fat dairy and whole grains. It makes such sense: five points of vegetable soup is NOT the same as five points of chocolate cake. Until now, points were points, no distinction between healthy foods and occasional indulgences. Now we have an extra reason to choose fruits (now free!) and vegetables (butternut squash is now free! I roasted a big one just this morning to celebrate!).
But if you're already following A Veggie Venture and Kitchen Parade, well then, you are already attuned to lots of vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. All your favorite recipes from my two websites? I think they'll remain high on your favorite recipes for both weight loss and weight maintenance with Weight Watchers, whether you count points on the old Weight Watchers point system or the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus value system.
If you have ideas on how A Veggie Venture and Kitchen Parade should implement the two point systems to make the sites even more useful to you, please let me know. Leave a comment, leave an e-mail, I'd love to know your thoughts.
One last but important reminder: Please know that A Veggie Venture and Kitchen Parade are not associated with Weight Watchers, more information here. As always, I recommend checking in with a nearby Weight Watchers center for all the details on the new program, assistance with your weight loss and weight maintenance goals.
Now back to the green bean salad recipe, you're gonna love it, I think, for a healthy Christmasy salad!