Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What goes with Macaroni?

Recently, invited for dinner at Jay & Christie’s, we planned to bring a salad. The main course was macaroni and bleu, and so I was having a difficult time coming up with an appropriate side. I’m kind of neurotic when it comes to dinner parties and potlucks (perhaps 4 does not necessarily constitute a party...). The day of the dinner, wracking my brain, I asked my good friend Internet, “What goes with macaroni and cheese?”
She answered: Broccoli, green beans, asparagus, peas, or sautéed greens. (The Internet is always right, so she must be female). I love fresh green beans, so I searched for green bean salad and stumbled across this great recipe:

Fresh Green Bean Salad with Basil and Tomatoes

(T. Susan Chang for NPR, Adapted from Cookwise by Shirley Corriher, Morrow 1997]

Makes 8 servings
1-1/2 pounds fresh green beans
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon salt (4 teaspoons total)
1 recipe garlic-basil dressing (below)
5 firm ripe tomatoes, sliced
4 sprigs fresh basil for garnish

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. While the water's heating, fill a large bowl with ice water (using at least a dozen cubes of ice). Once the water boils, add the beans and cook briefly: 1 or 2 minutes for tiny haricots, 4 or 5 for bigger beans. Don't walk away. Drain the beans quickly. Then shock them by dumping them in the ice water, agitating them briefly until they are quite cool (about a minute). Then drain again and set aside. They can be refrigerated in a tightly sealed plastic bag for several hours with no loss of color or texture. If you do refrigerate, first dry them extra-thoroughly on a dish towel. When ready to serve, toss the green beans with 1/3 cup of the dressing in a large mixing bowl. Taste and add more dressing or salt as needed. Pile the beans high in the center of a large white platter. Arrange the tomato slices overlapping around the edge. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt, and drizzle 3 tablespoons of the dressing on top of them. Garnish with the basil sprigs. Serve immediately.

Garlic-Basil Dressing
1 clove garlic
1 shallot
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup canola, corn or other vegetable oil
15 fresh basil leaves

Turn on the processor with the steel blade and drop the garlic and shallot down the feed tube onto the spinning blade to mince. Add the vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard and sugar. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Add the basil leaves and coarsely chop with several on/off pulses.

My Notes: Though the dressing is delicious, I wanted the salad to be more basil-y, so I chopped up some extra basil and tossed it with the green beans. Make sure you don’t cook the green beans too long; you want them to have a bit of a crisp texture, not soft or mushy. I added some garlic salt to the green beans when finished, and to the tomato slices instead of regular salt. I tried the dressing recipe using 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tbsp balsamic in place of the red wine vinegar and a quarter yellow onion in place of the shallot and I thought that worked great.

The salad was a success, thank goodness. Justin did comment that it was rather risky to try a new recipe an hour before we had to be there. We did show up 30 minutes late, but that was related more to my nothing-to-wear-crisis than food prep. This was a really easy dish, and I made it again the next day with the unprepared green beans and tomatoes I had left over, and the remaining dressing. This salad would be great served with a Panini and will make a great summer salad when it’s grilling weather.

P.S. I forgot to take a picture of the end results but it looked just like the photo. Or even better. Really!!

1 comment:

  1. Loved, loved, loved this dish! It was so fresh and bright. Thanks for posting the recipe, now I don't have to beg it off you.