It sometimes seems that string beans are the forgotten heroes of the garden. Showy and spectacular, tomatoes are the celebrities of the garden with multitudes of admirers and prime of place in the sunlight and the farm-stand. Cucumbers are the loyal best friends, always there for a quick snack but ready to get pickled and stick around for the long haul as well. Zucchini are the garden jesters, sometimes comical in their size and shape but always required to round out a dish or even a cake or bread. And of course greens are the delicate and ephemeral delights, to be treasured while they are there and missed while they are gone. But green beans? Does anyone really delight in a full basket of beans?
Yet today after weeks and weeks of picking big, gorgeous, ripe tomatoes I had only a few that remained untasted and unmolested from the dastardly chipmunks. So what to do with guests coming for dinner? At Thanksgiving and other fall/winter celebrations I like my beans uncut and steamed and smothered in butter and toasted, slivered almonds but that would hardly do to accompany an informal grill of burgers, steak and chicken. Also I wanted a salad that would both accompany the meat but also serve as complete nutrition for those non-carnivores in attendance. Here is what I ended up making:
(A quick bean salad) Cut the beans to bite-size and flash cook them in boiling water (less than a minute, until the green color is heightened). Cut fingerling potatoes to bite size and par-boil. Add chopped, sweet onion, any type of cooked bean you like (I prefer chickpeas but my kids hate them so I added small white beans), and a firm tomato cut to bite-size chunks. Mix with a light vinaigrette made from good quality olive oil, lemon juice, fresh herbs and salt/pepper.
This bean salad was actually quite good although I have to admit that many of the guests still preferred eating sliced tomatoes and cucumbers dressed only with salt. Sigh…