Wednesday, July 13, 2011

String Bean Potato Salad

String Bean Potato Salad!
I spotted some beautiful string beans at the Parker Farm booth at the Union Square Farmers Market on Saturday and picked up about a pound envisioning one of my favorite summer salads. I have such vivid memories of sitting on my grandma's back patio snapping the ends off string beans on a hot summer day and then enjoying the simple salad, so I called grandma a couple summers ago to find out her secret recipe! Silly me. Anyone out there with an Italian grandma knows there no such thing as a recipe. Just a little of that and a little of this and not too much of that and somehow, through the years of experience in the kitchen, grandma could create the most delicious dishes (but god help you if you tried to write down a recipe with measurements!). So, here's a how-to (we won't call it a recipe) on how to try to create this delicious summer salad:

Gather:

  • about a pound of fresh string beans, ends removed 
    • They're in season now in the Northeast! SO much better than frozen!
  • about a pound of potatoes 
    • New potatoes are in season right now
    • I like red potatoes for their color in this summer dish and they have a great texture 
    • I still had blue potatoes left from last fall's harvest that needed to be eaten!
    • Tip: Yukon gold are also great salad potatoes. They keep their shape better than softer potatoes like russets, which can get mealy in salads.
  • 1/2 a red onion, finely chopped
    • picked this up from the farmers market, too!
  • 1 -2 cloves of garlic, minced 
    • ?: do you know where your garlic comes from? I've been buying pre-peeled garlic for years and recently realized it could be from ANYWHERE! Then I saw some at the farmers market! Maybe next year, I'll try growing some of my own. Gotta shorten that distance From Seed to Stomach after all!!
  • 1 small cucumber, skin on, shredded
    • GRANDMA'S SECRET!
    • Cucumbers are mostly water, and shredding one in to a salad adds a ton of moisture and fresh flavor, allowing you to cut back on the oil and salt!
    • Tip: Just use a cheese grater to shred the cucumber.
  • Handful of fresh herbs, finely chopped
    • You can use practically anything you have on hand, but I chose:
      • Parsley, Basil, Rosemary, and Chives
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper and a sprinkle of Kosher Salt to taste
Then:
  • Scrub the potatoes. Leave the skins on for added color, texture, and nutrition, so make sure you clean them well. 
    • Tip: Rinse them under cold running water then soak them for a few minutes in a cold water bath with a tablespoon of baking soda before scrubbing with a vegetable brush.
    • Did you know that most potatoes are covered in chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) because it's hard to get that stuff out of the soil they grow in, even if a farmer shifts from traditional to organic methods? Look for them at the farmers market where you can ask the farmer how they're grown.
  • Cut the potatoes into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes and put them in a pot of water on the stove. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until fork tender. Drain and let cool.
    • Tip: If you have a pressure cooker, this is a great time to use it! You can cook those potatoes in less than 8 minutes. Just reference the directions that came with your cooker.
  • While the potatoes are boiling, steam the string beans, but just until they're cooked. You want them to still crunch and snap a bit. Mushy string beans don't have as much flavor or nutritional value.
    • Tip: Use a stove-top veggie steamer basket. Cover, but go in there every so often to mix up the beans with a pair of tongs, rotating the top ones with the bottom ones so they cook evenly.
    • Tip: When they're perfectly cooked but still crunchy, throw them in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking and keep their color bright.
  • Combine the potatoes and string beans in a large bowl with the shredded cucumber. 
  • Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil to lightly coat the potatoes and string beans.
  • Add the fresh herbs and the salt and pepper to taste.
  • DIG IN! 
This how-to should yield just enough salad to bring to your next BBQ or pot luck or just enough for dinner and leftovers for a couple days. It keeps well in the fridge for 2-3 days and makes a great lunch on hot days! 

Enjoy!

Full Disclosure: I volunteer for the Union Square Farmers Market by helping with their social media strategy and tactics.


This post was shared on:
Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday