Pound for pound, fresh-picked beans remain a relative bargain at farmers' markets, where bargains sometimes seem few and far between. This time of year, Aimee Olexy, whose Philadelphia restaurant, Talula's Garden, is a celebrated showcase for seasonal produce, likes to show some love for the humble, sometimes underappreciated bean.
"These are very versatile vegetables and great at carrying flavor," she says. "Beans provide crunch and moisture all in one, and they have a density that can pair well with steak or shrimp." They can also be served hot, at room temp, or cold, making them great for summer alfresco dining.
Although blanching or steaming is often the restaurant approach, "there's absolutely nothing wrong with boiling green beans," Olexy says. Just don't overboil. "Then just dress them with a little knob of butter or a splash of olive oil." If you plan to hold them before serving, shock the beans with ice water, and quickly reheat later.
Olexy designed the bean salad here to be simple and flavorful, with summer convenience in mind. You can serve it warm, or let it cool and serve at room temperature. Visitors to Philadelphia can try her version this month at Talula's Garden in Washington Square.
AIMEE OLEXY'S BEAN TIP When buying beans, make sure the seed pods aren't bulging—a sign they're tough—or faded. "They should be brightly colored, like when they're just picked," she says.
Bean Salad with Shrimp and Curry Yogurt
Hands-on: 25 min. Total: 25 min.
Pair this easy salad with seasoned whole-wheat couscous or grilled bread brushed with olive oil. The flavors marry as the dish stands, so it's a particularly good choice for a picnic or party platter.
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
½ cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1½ teaspoons honey
½ teaspoon fresh lime juice
9 ounces green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1. Combine first 6 ingredients, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine yogurt, curry, honey, and juice in a small bowl.
2. Cook beans in boiling water 3 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Add beans to shallot mixture; toss to coat.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shrimp, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper, and thyme to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until done. Add shrimp to green bean mixture; toss to coat. Serve with yogurt mixture.
SERVES 4 (serving size: about 1 cup shrimp mixture and about 2 tablespoons yogurt mixture)
CALORIES 234; FAT 12.3g (sat 2.1g, mono 7.5g, poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 19.9g; CARB 11.8g; FIBER 2.4g; CHOL 145mg; IRON 1.4mg; SODIUM 455mg; CALC 129mg
PORTRAIT: JASON VARNEY