Monday, July 2, 2012

summer tomato-green bean salad over cold, grilled chicken

     Don't you just love summertime? The fresh veggies, the smell of food on the grill, the stifling heat? What? You say, No to the last one?
     I don't blame you... Here in Coastal Georgia, after enjoying a balmy winter and breezy spring, summer marched into town as a fire-breathing dragon.
     For example, Saturday the thermometer climbed to 102 degrees. Ugh. The thought of heating up the kitchen certainly doesn't appeal right now.
     Here is a great dinner designed to avoid cooking for the most part. (You have to blanch a few beans.) You can add more tomatoes and beans to feed a Fourth of July crowd or cut the whole thing in half to feed two. You won't need all of the dressing for one recipe... Save it to toss on a salad.
     I had some leftover, grilled chicken breasts, but this salad would be great on or beside just about anything... can you imagine it with rare, seared ahi tuna? Or piled next to a juicy burger instead of those greasy fries?
     It will surely help you use up a bunch of produce you got carried away and bought last week at the farmers' market. Oops... Sorry. That would describe moi.
     Even if you don't have a penchant for being overzealous on market day, local grocery stores are filled with the bounty of the season. Check them out!
Ingredients
1/2 pound of whole green beans, fresh or frozen
two or more pounds of mixed tomatoes, some large, some small. red, yellow, striped, purple, etc.
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1T. balsamic vinegar
3T. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 clove garlic, grated
pinch sugar
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
lemon zest from one lemon
juice of half a lemon
fresh thyme leaves
pinch of dried italian seasoning
cold grilled chicken breasts, thinly sliced
Directions
In a large pot filled with boiling salted water, blanch the green beans for a couple of minutes. Drain and plunge immediately into an ice water bath to preserve the bright green color and cool the beans. Drain again and set aside.
Place a large colander over a mixing bowl. Cut tomatoes into colander. Cut some in half, some in quarters... different sizes and shapes makes the salad visually appealing.
Next, salt the tomatoes generously and leave for about 10 minutes to drain. The salt draws the water out of the tomatoes. By removing some the water, the flavors intensify. (Never fear... They won't taste overly salty, as you will not be adding salt to the dressing.) Toss them again and give them another sprinkle of salt.
Meanwhile, mix up the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk the pepper, vinegar, evoo, sugar, and lemon juice together. Add the grated garlic, lemon zest and herbs.
Dump drained tomatoes and green beans into a large salad bowl. Slowly drizzle dressing over, adding only as much as is needed to coat vegetables. Taste for seasoning, adding more black pepper if needed.
Place cold, sliced chicken on plate. Top with salad and drizzle a bit of dressing extra over chicken. I served mine with a loaf of rustic olive bread.

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