There is something so romantic about lingering over a fresh lunch. So often we’re pulled in too many directions and end up just “grabbing” a protein bar and an apple to go, or haphazardly assembling a sad salad, only to be unsatisfied at 3pm. I was recently looking (Facebook stalking) through photos a friends recent trip to Italy. After about 300 pictures of thoughtful, bright, local meals enjoyed with chilled white wine at a quaintly adorable street-side cafe, I decided enough was enough. I was determined to create an inspired lunch of my own, and quickly got my mom on board, who would say no to that?
Though I’ve never been to Italy, I have spent some time learning that though pasta is king, fresh and local are queen (and we all know what that means). Midday we all need something rejuvenating to power us through the afternoon, so we got cooking! We had picked up some green beans at the farmers market, utilized our handy mint plant (fresh and local: check) and created something perfect for summer.
Green beans don’t have the best kitchen reputation, usually appearing either drained from a can, or in casserole form. This green bean salad provides a much needed makeover: lemon and feta brighten up the background, allowing the crisp green beans to shine. Keeping the beans crisp is key, cue blanching! For some reason blanching is one of my favorite cooking techniques. There is something so satisfying about plunging steamed veggies into ice water, not to mention the insane color retention! Anyway, topped with sliced almonds and fresh mint, this is a simple, but dynamite combination.
We enjoyed this outside, in our backyard, slowly and mindfully, and my fantasy was fulfilled. After just one bite, I was transported to my imaginary Italian cafe, returning only to take another bite. While this salad was created to satisfy wanderlust, It would also be a perfect addition to a summer barbecue, or a great side dish along side burgers or fish!
In the end, the best thing about a delicious dish, is the quality time it facilitates. Though always running around in our busy lives, my mom and I overlap lunches all the time. Rarely though, do we take the extra 5 minutes to sit down outside and enjoy. We may not always (ever?!) have the luxury of a leisurely lunch followed by a walk through the park, but enjoying the small things is just as important!
1lb green beans, trimmed
1/4 C feta, crumbled
1/4 C fresh mint
1/4 C slivered amonds (we LOVE trader joes toasted slivered almonds)
zest from 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
Blanch green beans: Boil for about 3-4 min, plunge into ice water immediately to stop the cooking process and keep the beans crisp
Refrigerate green beans until chilled, about 30 minutes
While beans are cooling, combine all dressing ingredients and set aside
Combine green beans with dressing, top with feta, almonds, lemon zest and mint