Now that Spring is upon us, I find myself wanting to make salads more and more and soups less and less. Here's a fairly quick and easy recipe that combines a lot of different flavors and textures: the crunchiness of the green beans, the cool cucumber, the earthy kidney beans, the sweet grape tomatoes, and the salty feta.
- 3/4 to 1 lb fresh green beans, blanched and shocked (see below)
- One 14 oz can beans of your choice (red kidneys, etc.), washed
- One English cucumber, peeled and quartered into 1" slices
- 8 oz grape tomatoes, washed and halfed lengthwise
- One medium shallot, chopped rough
- 6 to 8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 Tbsp vinegar (or 1 Tbsp Balsamic)
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh herbs, as desired
Wash the green beans well and let drain in a colander. In a large sauce pan or stock pot, bring four to six quarts (depending on amount of green beans) of salted water to boil. Allow washed green beans to cook in water for three to five minutes, until bright green.
As green beans are cooking, fill a large bowl about half way with cold water, and fill with ice until water line is about 2/3 up the bowl. As green beans are done, place immediately into ice water. This will help "shock" the beans and keep them bright green and slightly crunchy.
Trim green beans of stem ends, and cut into 1-2" pieces. Place on paper or kitchen towel and lightly pat dry.
Combine green beans, kidney beans, quartered cucumber slices, shallots, and tomatoes in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste, but be restrained on the added salt; the feta will add an additional saltiness later.
If you can't find shallots at your local grocer, ask them to carry them then try again! ;) But in cases of genuine scarcity, half a small red onion chopped should do well, too.
Drizzle with vinegar and add crumbled feta cheese. Fold together mixture carefully. Then, drizzle with olive oil and add chopped fresh herbs (optional, but flat-leaf parsley goes especially well); toss to coat all ingredients. Serve immediately or chill for up to four hours to allow flavors to more completely meld.