And here I promised I wasn’t going to share salad recipes, and what’s this…?
But this is seriously so good, I couldn’t resist. The amazing thing is I am not crazy about green beans. In fact, I have some deep-seated childhood issues with a certain greenish vegetable who shall remain nameless, although admittedly, you couldn’t really call those canned chunks of mealiness green beans. Especially after they (and I) sat for a looong time, attempting to choke them down, with everyone gone and the dishwasher running and the light over the stove shedding a weak puddle of light on the dreaded plate of torture…Um, wow. Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. And before you judge my mother too harshly for this, please note that she was very aware that as soon as this situation came to pass, I merely walked over to the garbage can and dumped those nasty things right in (wrapped in a napkin first, you know, to hide the evidence).
I’ve decided that these episodes must’ve taken place during non-bean season because there were definitely times when we had normal, actual green beans, but my scarring canned experience tainted any possible attempt at even sampling any type of green bean for several decades. And even now, I can really only eat the skinny sweet French haricots vert. Anything too thick or chunky just gives me the willies.
So, when I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I was shocked that it actually appealed to me (the gorgeous photos certainly helped its cause). And as I need to eat a lot more veggies as part of this little contest I’ve undertaken, I thought I’d give it a shot — with a few adjustments (really not many) to maintain the requirements of the diet.
Maybe it’s the crunchy freshness that’s so enticing. Or maybe it’s the combination of the tangy pickled onions with the fragrant fennel, sweet beans and smoky almonds that’s making me crazy. All I know is I’ve made this salad twice in the last four days and depending on how quickly this last batch is depleted, there may be a third one round the bend. So, get to it. High thee to the grocers and make this delicious concoction post-haste.
Oh and just to even things out, keep your eyes peeled for Monday’s post for something really unhealthy, but divine.
Notes: I tried the almonds two ways. The first time, I roasted them and then sautéed them in a pan with a little olive oil and then sprinkled them with smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Lovely. The second time, I just roasted them and skipped the sauté part and actually preferred them without the extra oil. The spices don’t stick as well, but it’s healthier and just as good.
Also, I had enough of the pickling liquid left over to pickle the other half of the red onion and use that for the dressing for the second batch, but you may want to add another tablespoon of vinegar to the mixture to make sure it keeps its tanginess intact.
Green Bean Salad
Very slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 pound haricots vert (you can use regular ones too)
1 fennel bulb (about 1/2 pound)
2 celery stalks
1/2 large red onion
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey (or sugar if you’re not avoiding it, as I currently am)
1/3 cup whole almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
Smoked paprika (optional)
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Put a big pot of water on to boil and preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC. While you’re waiting for that, very very thinly slice the onion, celery and fennel. You want the fennel to be paper thin as you’ll be eating it raw, so use a mandolin if you have one. It’s much easier to use a knife on the celery and onion (or maybe my mandolin is just not very sharp).
Pop the almonds in the oven for about 7-8 minutes and keep an eye (and nose) on them to make sure they don’t burn. You can then sautée them as mentioned above and add the spices — or not. Let them cool slightly and chop them in halves or thirds.
Mix the vinegar, water, salt and sweetener in a small bowl and add the onions. Let that sit while you’re doing the rest (or do ahead of time and let it sit for an hour or so; it’ll be even better).
Blanch the beans in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes (longer if you’re using the fatter ones). Drain and dump into an ice bath immediately.
Combine the beans, fennel, celery, onions, almonds and about 3 tablespoons of the pickling liquid in a large serving bowl. Garnish with salt and pepper to taste. Devour.