Garden season is in swing, and soon we’ll be able to access fresh produce from our gardens or local farmer’s markets. I can’t think of anything more tasty than red, ripe tomatoes and crisp, cool cucumbers on a hot summer evening. We normally plant a large garden, but this year it will be pared down quite a bit. We are still going to need a few tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini, I think. I will probably buy my green beans from the farmer’s market, as my back doesn’t appreciate the picking process. We also have a large Amish community close by. Many of the families have greenhouses that produce vegetables that can be found in the Amish stores dotted around the countryside.
The recipe I have chosen for you this month takes advantage of the bounty of yours or someone else’s garden. It uses fresh green beans and cherry or grape tomatoes, paired with bacon and feta cheese. When cooking the beans, try not to overcook them — they are delicious cooked to the tender/crisp stage, and the blanching of the beans stops the cooking process so that they stay crisp. This would be a perfect accompaniment to any main dish — steak, grilled chicken, hamburgers or anything you choose! I could almost make a meal out of this. You can cook the beans ahead, then add the tomatoes and dressing to marinate in the refrigerator. When you are ready to eat, just assemble the other ingredients, toss together and enjoy!
Have a wonder-filled summer, everyone, and savor the moments.
FRESH GREEN BEAN SALAD WITH BALSAMIC DRESSING
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 pounds Fresh green beans, ends trimmed
4 ounces feta cheese
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Cook beans until tender, or crisp/tender, 5-10 minutes. Immediately drain beans and place drained beans in a large bowl of ice water for a few minutes to stop cooking. This will keep them bright green and perfectly tender. Drain beans and pat them dry. Toss them in a bowl with the tomatoes.
For the dressing, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, garlic powder and pepper together. Pour over green beans and toss to coat. Cover and chill at least an hour or up to 3 hours before serving. Stir in feta cheese and bacon right before serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature. ♦