One of the great things about belonging to a CSA (community-supported agriculture) is the introduction to random produce. I mean, who has ever heard of a rattlesnake bean? Despite their ominous look, these come from a farm here in Alabama, and taste like tender green beans.
A light, summery salad like this is a staple for days when you don’t want to cook. This recipe will whip up a good-sized batch for dinner, or make a few lunches. I added cannellini (white kidney) beans because I love their smooth texture and wanted some extra protein, but you could substitute chickpeas, or omit beans entirely. The salad would be great with a loaf of crusty bread.
Knowing how to make good vinaigrette is a must. I learned how to make oil-and-vinegar dressing from my 90-year-old Italian grandmother, who always got the job of preparing the salad when she visited. One of the most important parts I noticed is that Grandma Rose tasted the dressing– she didn’t just follow a recipe blindly. Except for in baking, where ratios and formulas are important, I recommend following G-Rose’s example.
I never buy salad dressing anymore: doing so saves on packaging and waste, and homemade, olive oil-based vinaigrette is much healthier than the stuff on the grocery store shelves. You owe it to yourself to try it out– and be adventurous! It’s hard to go wrong with a basic formula of a little oil, a little acid, some salt and pepper, maybe a sprinkling of dried herbs, and a clove of garlic or a shallot. Save a small jar to make it in– just, shake, taste, pour, toss, taste, and serve.
Rattlesnake Green Bean and White Bean Salad
Serves 2-4, depending on quantity of green beans and appetites
Fresh green beans, washed with ends snapped off, snapped into shorter segments
1 tomato, seeded and chopped (or a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half)
1 large can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small clove garlic or 1 small shallot, minced fine
Salt and pepper
Place green beans and a couple of tablespoons water in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with a microwave-safe plate and zap for 3-5 minutes, checking after 3. Bite one—beans should be tender-crisp. Drain excess water and allow to cool for a couple of minutes. Add cannellini beans and tomato.
Meanwhile, make vinaigrette. In a clean jar, add lemon juice, oil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Shake and taste. If it’s too acidic, add a little more oil. If it’s too oily, add some more lemon juice. Try adding basil or oregano for a different flavor. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss gently. Taste again, and serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.
A tip: this can be made ahead, but wait until the last minute to add the vinaigrette—after it sits for several hours, the beans will start to brown a little.