With summer vegetable season in full swing, my garden is pumping out the produce. Something I’d planned for all winter and spring – this season is busy as I try to keep up with all of the goodness pouring into my kitchen.

Because we eat seasonally, what is available to pick from the garden, the typical ‘green salad’ is only available in spring and fall. By mid summer all of our spring lettuces have gone to seed and those seeds get re-planted in late summer to produce again in the cooler months of the fall.

Not to worry. Mid-summer salads are some of my very favorite. The greens we have in abundance right now are kale, chard, cucumbers, zucchini and my favorite – beans.

My Italian family loved their beans. In particular I recall enjoying the larger, flat beans. When cooked until just tender, these meatier beans get silky smooth and have a buttery flavor. This year, I found some dry beans at our local discount grocer ‘Cannellini Runner Beans’ and instead of cooking them, decided to try and plant them. They produced well and have the best flavor and texture!  They are pretty, too:

runner-beans-small

 

If you don’t have a garden producing green beans right now swing by your local farmer’s market. Here are a few variations of my favorite cold bean salads:

Green beans can be pretty sweet eaten raw, but if picked at the right time (not too large otherwise they’ll get tough and woody) and cooked until just tender, they become SO delicious!

Here is how I prepare them for a salad:

Snap ends off beans and simmer them in a pot of salted water with one large garlic clove.  When just tender, drain and submerge in cold water to stop cooking. Pat dry and transfer to bowl.  Fish out garlic clove and chop or smash.  Add this mellow garlic to beans with a generous drizzle of good olive oil and salt to taste.

Now you can add other ingredients.

Cooked potatoes and basil:

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Tomatoes, cucumber, red onions and fresh herbs:

bean-salad

Add in some soft cheese like goat, feta or queso fresco.  Toast some sunflower or pumpkin seeds and add for a nice crunch.

Here is one last bean salad recipe you MUST try if you have lots of zucchini and beans right now.

  • string beans, cooked (as above)
  • zucchini (cubed and simmered until just barely tender, still firm and bright green)
  • red onion, sliced
  • jalapeno, chopped fine
  • fresh cilantro
  • Queso fresco cheese – crumbled
  • Olive oil, salt & pepper to taste

Hope you give one of these a try!

 

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