Summer, Summer, Summer Time! Oooooooh, Summertime!
Ok, maybe not summer yet, but I do like it when I can get produce to do my bidding at any given season and remind me of the joys of a fruitful harvest from the garden. This salad, based on one that I fell in love with at the restaurant The Smith, is a bright assortment of crisp and tart, sweet and salty flavors. It’ll make you want to sit in a hammock and sway on a warm summer night.
The salad calls for heirloom cherry tomatoes, but these little gems can be hard to come by out of season. As such, get the freshest ripest tomatoes you can find, regardless of size or color. In the middle of the summer, stores and markets offer what they sometimes call “ugly” tomatoes – these are actually heirlooms that are truly the tastiest tomatoes you can buy. Bumpy and abnormally shaped on the outside, they are bursting with juicy sweetness, reminding you of the joys of homegrown produce. My favorites are an heirloom variety that I used to grow back in the day called “Black Krim’s” – they were a sickly dark green on the outside and a gorgeous purple on the inside. I only gave them to people I liked, even when I had bumper crops of tomatoes hanging from the burdened vines.
Ok, for you readers out there, here’s an intermission where I want you to read Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Tomatoes.
Yep, I’m swooning over a tomato, but then again, Neruda is awesome like that. Don’t get me started on Ode to a Lemon…but I digress. This salad is pretty much a vegan recipe aside from the salty goodness that is the ricotta salata – if you haven’t tried it before, ricotta salata is simply ricotta cheese that is salted and pressed into solid wheels. It tastes a little like feta without the bite, and can be shaved into lovely whisps or grated into delicate shreds. If you eschew meat and dairy, leave out the ricotta salata and enjoy your summertime of vegan goodness.
String Bean and Heirloom Tomato Salad
1 lb. of string beans, snipped of stems
1 c. of heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1 c. cubed tomatoes)
1 c. of frisée lettuce, torn into 2 in. lengths
1/8 c. of slivered (or sliced) almonds, toasted
1 tbs. of good dijon mustard
1 tbs. of red wine vinegar
1/4 c. of olive oil
1/8 tsp. of white pepper
1/2 tsp. of black pepper
1 tsp. of salt (to taste)
Put a pot of well salted water on to boil. Drop your green beans into the pot and let cook until they turn bright green – about 3 minutes. Drain and quickly shock the beans with cold water (an ice bath is good, or a good spraying of cold water from the sink) until they are cool. Drain the string beans well and add to a large bowl.
To toast your almonds, toss them into a dry skillet and shake them around until they turn light brown and smell fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk the mustard and vinegar. Slowly stream in the olive oil. Add the white and black pepper. Set aside.
Add your tomatoes and frisée to the green beans. Toss in the almonds and then pour the dressing over the mix. Taste for salt and then add your 1 tsp. if necessary. You actually want to slightly oversalt any salad that you are going to chill before serving as the marinade will lose saltiness as it absorbs into the veggies. Let the salad chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
To finish, shave the ricotta salata over the salad and serve.