At the time of juggling Patisserie, Italian Bistro, and also my life, I met Tina. Tina was a talented pastry chef and had worked at both the Patisserie and the Italian Bistro, although not at the same time. She had the same thought patterns when it came to food, so we were always challenging each other with flavor combinations and new ideas. Tina was married to Ed, and sometimes when we weren't working, we would go out. This meant that we usually went to a bowling alley to bowl and drink beer or to an Irish Pub to, er, show our support for JFK. It was a fantastic era of my life. In that era I had also matted my hair into dreadlocks. Probably because I didn't have time for grooming. Together we would talk about food, which would then lead to talking about work. The owner of the Italian Bistro was very Italian and there was always an Italian relative within arms reach, (and usually wearing a baby blue colored suit and sunglasses). I didn't ask questions. I just made sure that the pasta was al dente. Tina and I thought this was awesome! Tina and I swapped a lot of recipes. One recipe that I am very grateful for is her green bean salad. Fresh green beans, toasted nuts, some variety of salty cheese, and a simple lemon vinaigrette. Although Tina and Ed now live on the west coast, and I now live on the north shore, I still have our great memories.
I wanted to keep this recipe simple, and just really feature the ingredients. A Meyer lemon vinaigrette paired with toasted pine nuts and Manchego cheese turned out to be a great combination. As you may have noticed, there are some fantastic photos of this salad with Lake Superior lounging in the backdrop. These are thanks to Stephan Hoglund and his amazing photography skills. During this photo shoot, I ended up altering the salad a bit and adding fresh chiffinade of basil and heirloom cherry tomatoes. These ingredients were great additions to the salad. To be honest though, I would've liked to add more seasonal ingredients such as delicate pea shoots or shaved radishes. These seasonal items weren't available so I improvised with great results. If you live somewhere near a metro area or a farmer's market, any seasonal produce shine.
Green Bean Salad-
1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 Tbls basil, chiffinade
1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
Manchego cheese, shaved
Blanch the green beans in salted, boiling water. I cooked them for about 5 minutes, and then immediately submerged them in ice water. This makes the beans vibrant green in color, but more importantly they remain crisp and firm, which is how I prefer them.
Toss the green beans, toasted pine nuts, basil, tomatoes, and Manchego together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the vinaigrette. Dress the green bean salad to your liking with the vinaigrette. I used about 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette.
Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette-
1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced
1 Shallot, minced (about 1 Tbls)
1/3 cup Olive oil
1/4-1/2 tsp Sea salt
1/4 tsp Black pepper
Whisk above ingredients together until emulsified. This amount of vinaigrette makes enough to dress the salad, with a bit left over to dress future salads. Belly up!!