July 26, 2014

Blistered Bean and Nectarine Salad

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Peas and carrots. Rice and beans. Peanut butter and jelly. Just like Hollywood and history books, the food world has its own set of iconic duos. And if you’re looking to play matchmaker in your own kitchen, you need look no further than what’s in season.

Right now, stone fruit and beans (of the green, cranberry, and yellow wax variety) are taking over the market. They are, as you might say in the tabloids, “hot items.” And while they might seem like a totally odd couple at first glance, they actually work beautifully together; the crunch of the beans balancing out the juiciness of the fruit, the tones of grassy green complimenting the sunset-oranginess of the nectarines.

Which is all to say that you should really make a meal of them. Like this salad, inspired by the latest issue of Cooking Light Magazine and its cover stars, beans and fruit. That takes about 15 minutes to prepare with jaw-dropping, tongue-wagging results.

To give the leading legume and the nectarine a bit of a flavor boost, simply flash sauté the beans and the nectarines in a hot pan (or throw the fruit on the grill if you’re already using it — with the help of this tutorial, here). Then mix with a simple herb, onion, and lemon dressing and serve to your adoring fans. That’s it.  Simple, fresh, majorly low-sodium, and a great gluten-free replacement for the traditional pasta salad. Which means you could always go more classic route by adding a mix of pesto and cherry tomatoes. Or go more Tex Mex-inspired with black beans and corn and salsa. Or even something carbonara-like, with chopped, hard boiled eggs and salt-free bacon.

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BLISTERED BEAN AND NECTARINE SALAD

Ingredients

  • Olive or vegetable oil (I usually use grapeseed)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 small shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 green onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 lb beans, green or yellow wax or a combination, trimmed
  • 2 nectarines, cut into 2-inch thick slices

Directions 

Start by making the dressing. Place 1/4 cup of oil, lemon juice, the garlic clove, shallot, and green onion into a small food processor and pulse until the shallot and onion get a fine chop. Add the basil and blend again until you have a smooth, dressing-like consistency. Transfer to a separate bowl or container, and set aside.

Then, cut the beans in half and in a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the beans in a single layer to the pan, working in batches if needed. Let the beans char and blister on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes, and then use a spatula to flip them over (the best that you can) to blister on the other side, another 2 minutes. Transfer the beans to your serving bowl and then repeat with the rest of the beans, adding more oil as needed.

Finally, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the nectarine slices in a single layer, working in batches again if needed. Let them blister on one side, about 2 minutes, and use a spatula to flip and blister on the other side, another 1 to 2 minutes. Add them to the bowl of beans with a few tablespoons of dressing. Gently mix until combined. Taste and add more dressing as needed. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge and eat the next day.

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