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A Colorful Twist on Salade Nicoise

I think we’re finally nearing the end of our green bean and tomato harvest. Even after eating them frequently for weeks on end, I still haven’t tired of them. One of the reasons, I think, is the fantastic Nicoise-style salad that I make at least once a week. Sometimes I just combine all the ingredients in a salad bowl and toss, but most often, especially when that’s all I’m serving for dinner, I prefer to serve a “composed” salad, arranging the various ingredients aesthetically on dinner plates.

Just for fun, I changed things up a bit the other day. I came up with a colorful twist on the classic salad, using roasted sweet potatoes instead of steamed white potatoes, yellow tomatoes instead of red, and dark red kidney beans instead of my usual chickpeas (which I use instead of the traditional tuna.) For comparison to the colorful salad above, I’m also posting a photo of my regular Nicoise.

Here is the recipe so you can make it either way:

Nicoise-Style Salad
(This recipe is adapted from The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook by Robin Robertson.) The colorful adaptation ingredients are in brackets.

1 1/2 pounds white potatoes [or sweet potatoes]
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces green beans
1 or 2 ripe red tomatoes, sliced [or yellow tomato]
2 tablespoons Niçoise or Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed [or dark red kidney beans]
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
Torn salad greens
Cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch dice and steam over boiling water until tender. Alternately, the potatoes can be tossed with olive oil and spread on a baking sheet and roasted in a 435 degree oven until tender. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
Steam the green beans until tender. Run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
Place a layer of salad greens on dinner plates. Arrange a portion of the potatoes, green beans, tomato slices and chickpeas (or beans) decoratively on each plate. (Alternately you can cut the green beans and tomatoes and combine all the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl, including torn salad greens.)
In a small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, parsley, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until blended, then drizzle some of the dressing over each salad, or if making one large salad, drizzle on enough dressing to coat and toss gently.

Serves 4

Podcast on

In case anyone hasn’t already heard the news: vegan author and publisher, Erik Marcus has relaunched his great website and reformatted his podcast to a weekly 20-minute interview show. I’m a longtime fan of Erik and his work, so naturally I was thrilled to be invited as a guest to talk about one of my favorite topics – spring produce!

On the podast, we discuss was how roasting brings out the flavor of many vegetables and how asparagus and baby red potatoes are especially great roasted. (BTW, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are amazing cooked this way, too) If any of these are vegetables that you think you don’t like, I encourage you to try them roasted at least once.

We also talk about the wonderful tender young green beans beginning to show up this time of year and, of course, the terrific baby greens and lettuces that are so great in salads. I promised Erik that his listeners could link over here to my blog to get some of the recipes we talked about on the show, so I’ve posted them below. Congrats to Erik on the new and improved!

Roasted Asparagus
When roasted, asparagus is my absolute favorite vegetable. I like it that way so much, that I rarely prepare it any other way. If you haven’t tried roasting asparagus, you’re in for a treat. Irresistible in its own right, serve it with a squeeze of lemon for supreme dining pleasure.

1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the trimmed asparagus spears on a lightly oiled baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the asparagus until just tender, 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears. Serve hot.
Serves 4

Nicoise-Style Green Bean and New Potato Salad
This hearty and flavorful salad teams up spring produce favorites: tender green beans and new potatoes on a bed of mixed baby lettuces. Add black olives, tomatoes, and a zesty vinaigrette dressing for a delicious salad inspired by the country French classic. Chickpeas or white beans add substance and help to make it a meal. It’s great served with crusty grilled bread. I adapted this recipe from Vegan Planet.

1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes
8 ounces green beans, steamed
2 tablespoons minced scallions
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup Niçoise olives (or other imported black olives), pitted
1 cup cooked chickpeas or white beans
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Baby salad greens, to serve

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with enough salted cold water to cover, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, and cut in half or quarters. Transfer to a large bowl. Cut the green beans into 1-inch lengths and add to the bowl, along with the scallions, tomatoes, olives, and chickpeas, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, parsley, basil, sugar, and salt and pepper. Whisk until blended and pour over the salad. Toss gently until thoroughly blended and serve on a bed of torn salad greens.
Serves 4 to 6

Note: you can also roast your potatoes for this recipes, instead of boiling or steaming them.