I owe string beans an apology. I’ve overlooked them season after season in favor of their verdant brethren: asparagus, peas, and fava beans.
But the other day during a particularly sweaty yoga class, it hit me: a craving for green beans. (Which, let me tell you, made a nice change from thinking about pie.) I wanted them blanched and dressed simply, intertwined around other summer produce but still taking center stage.
To my delight, I found not only bright, slender green beans at our co-op, but also butter-yellow wax beans and chubby romanos.
A quick dunk in boiling water and a dive into an ice bath keeps the beans juicy and crisp-tender. I toss the drained beans with sweet corn, sliced off the cob – when fresh and in season, there’s no need to cook it (though if you have leftover steamed or grilled corn, it would also be welcome). I add cherry tomatoes, torn basil leaves, and thin slices from a shiny red onion. The salad doesn’t even get a proper dressing; just a generous drizzle of super-good olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper. A crumble of feta (I like the mild and ultra-creamy French sheep’s milk feta) adds tang, and makes the dish a bit more substantial.
This salad benefits from an hour or two of marinating, making it welcome at picnics and parties. Though quite simple, it has been very well-received, even by self-proclaimed veggie-phobes. I brought a batch to a band video shoot in my sister’s backyard. (A video and info about our upcoming show in SF here!) After four sweltering hours of standing around in heels and singing at the top of our lungs while trying to look pretty (and that was just the guys), six ravenous musicians and one cameraman demolished this in about thirty seconds flat.
The second batch got eaten on Stinson beach after a steep, 8-mile loop to which Jay subjected me and my sister, which we subsequently dubbed “The Death Hike,” or “DH,” for short.
But we’ve been enjoying it under normal circumstances, as well; and I hope you will, too. Sometimes the best recipes are the most basic, and this one’s not so bad, either. Thanks, green beans!
Green, Yellow, and Romano Bean Salad with Sweet Corn and Feta
Top-notch ingredients make this simple salad sparkle, so use the best of everything that you can find: fresh, in-season vegetables, creamy feta, super-good olive oil. Feel free to play around with quantities and ingredients; I think cucumbers, chives, roasted beets, potatoes, fava beans, shell beans, and sweet peppers would all make lovely additions or substitutions. This salad is good straight away, or it can be chilled for several hours or up to one day. The acidity from the lemon juice will start to discolor the vegetables if left longer than that, but, take it from me, the salad is still tasty two days out.
Makes 6-8 servings as a snack or side dish
For the salad:
1/2 pound green beans
1/2 pound yellow wax beans
1/2 pound romano beans
3 large ears corn
half of a small, fresh, shiny red onion
1 scant pint basket cherry tomatoes
a few handfuls basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice from half to one lemon
salt and black pepper
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (I like sheep feta)
Make the salad:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Trim the beans and cut them into 2-3″ lengths. Prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl. Cook the beans in the boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the beans and plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking. When cool, drain well.
Shuck the corn, and rinse off any silk. Hold a cob lengthwise in a large, shallow bowl and use a sharp paring knife to slice off the top half of the kernels using a downward motion. (Don’t cut too close to the cob, or you will get hard, fibrous bits that make for unpleasant eating.)
Cut the onion half into paper-thin slices and add it to a large bowl along with the prepared beans and corn kernels. Slice the tomatoes in half if larger (leave tiny ones whole) and add them to the bowl. Wash and tear the basil leaves into bite-sized bits and add them to the salad. Drizzle with the olive oil and the juice of half a lemon, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Toss well and taste, adding more salt, pepper or lemon if you feel the salad could use it. Transfer to a serving platter, and sprinkle the feta over the top.
Serve the salad right away, or let the flavors meld at room temperature for an hour or two, or chill for up to 1 day.