Spring means fresh produce, new vegetables, and a renewed interest in healthy eating. After a season filled with braised dishes and slowly cooked stews, what follows is a desire for freshness and for dishes that showcase vibrant colors and exciting new flavors.
I find that springtime salads offer great canvases for taste. They are usually heftier than summer salads. I'm in the mood for cooler foods, but to be honest, the craving for lettuce is not at the top of my list. Right now, what I beg for are colorful combinations of fresh vegetables to help me forget the drabbiness of gray winter days and that help me transition into the warmth of summer.
This salad fits the bill. Crunchy green beans--barely cooked and shocked in icy water to retain their crisp texture--are bathed in warm vinaigrette and topped with an aromatic relish. What's not to like?
Blanch green beans by cooking them in boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until barely tender. Immediately drain them and plunge them into iced water to stop the cooking process and to set their bright green color.
The ingredients are simple: sliced onions and sweet bell peppers, a touch of acid, a splash of golden oil, some brown sugar, and of course, snappy green beans.
I usually serve it alongside grilled fish but love also to compose a salad topped with seared tuna--still pink in the middle--hard boiled eggs, and roasted potatoes. Sometimes, I even throw in some black olives and create a nouvelle Nicoise salad like no other.
The recipe is quick to prepare. This is what I like to eat this time of year. What are you craving this springtime?
Warm Green Bean Salad
1 pound blanched and shocked green beans
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced white onions
1 cup thinly sliced red bell peppers
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oil in a large saute pan, set over medium high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook for 3-4 minutes or until they are soft. In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, juice, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Pour this into the pan and stir to combine with the onions and peppers, coating them well. Remove pan from heat. In a large bowl, toss the green beans with the warm vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
©Copyright Sandra A. Gutierrez, 2011; All Rights Reserved. These photographs and this recipe as a whole or its parts may not be used, photocopied, copied, distributed, taught or disseminated by any means, without express written consent of the author.