One of my summertime favourites is a salad of green and yellow beans with cherry tomatoes. My version is based on a recipe I found in a Bon Appétit magazine years ago, and I’ve made it many times. The photograph above, from the original post, is one of my top ten images from this blog.
Of course, you don’t need a recipe to make a salad, although it can be helpful. Sometimes I want to make the salad just as it was originally and that’s when I follow the rules. Other times, though, I go with the flow and base the salad on what calls out to me at the market.
On Sunday I was at Thomas Bros Farm Market near London, and a pint of multi-coloured mini tomatoes caught my eye. They were red, orange, yellow and purple, round, oval and oblong. My first thought was how nice they would look instead of the usual cherry or grape tomatoes in my bean salad. Then I found some beautiful new red potatoes, all small and cheery looking, and thought about adding those into the salad for more substance. When I saw two big bins of green and yellow beans, the deal was sealed: yes, I definitely was making the salad for dinner!
Yesterday, craving that salad again, I visited the outdoor farmers’ market at London’s Covent Garden Market. This time I found organic green beans, fingerling potatoes and yellow zucchini at the Dolway Organic Garden booth. The charming Little Miss, who was my companion for this expedition, had the fun of picking out the potatoes and was interested to learn about why it’s good to buy produce right from the farmers who grow it. This time the salad was just beans, potatoes, zucchini and freshly picked cherry tomatoes that exploded with no-holds-barred flavour, plus my usual dressing.
If you’re up for a quick lesson in one-pot kitchen efficiency, here’s how I processed the vegetables. I blanched the beans in a big pot of water at a rolling boil for four minutes. Once they were removed, I popped on a steamer basket. The sliced zucchini got the spa treatment for about a minute and a half, and then the potatoes for about 15 minutes. (Check with a knife to see if they’re tender enough at that point. If not, leave them on longer, but don’t let them get too soft.)
One of the joys of kitchen freestyling is to start with a much loved recipe and then let the bounty at the market and your own tastes guide you to new versions.