Monday, June 30, 2008

Americana Summer Salads

When I lived in Telluride my neighbor, Antonietta, would bring me stack of pizzelle and a big bowl of her three-bean salad at the start of every summer. This provided a needed watering of my southern Italian roots. Really my Italian-American roots, in the case of the canned bean salad.

I loved Antonietta's old-fashioned three-bean salad (her pizzelle were good too, but my allegiance will always be with the anise-spiked ones of my youth). I always said I would come over one time so she should teach me to make the salad myself but that never happened.

So imagine my squeal of delight when this caught my eye: Classic Three-Bean Salad in an email from America's Test Kitchen. These are the same serious people who preside over Cook's Illustrated. I'm forever grateful to them for teaching me to make pulled pork but often I feel sorry for them. They seem to take NO pleasure in cooking. The pity may cease if they continue to provide me with great recipes.

I'm excited that the Classic Three-Bean Salad dressing incorporates fresh beans while keeping with the similar flavors as Antonietta's, mainly parsley and red onion. The recipe is a lot like my favorite coleslaw where the dressing is boiled to dissolve sugar. I'm going to make this on Wednesday after picking up the green and yellow beans at the farmer's market.

Classic Three-Bean Salad
Print recipe only here

* 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
* 1/3 cup granulated sugar
* 1/3 cup canola oil
* 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* Fresh ground black pepper
* 8 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 8 ounces yellow wax beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 1 16-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
* ½ medium red onion, chopped
* ¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Heat vinegar, sugar, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Fill a large saucepan with water and 1 tablespoon kosher salt and bring to a boil. Add green and yellow beans; cook until crisp-tender, about 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with ice water. When beans are done, drain and immediately plunge into ice water to stop cooking process. Let sit until chilled, about 2 minutes. Drain well.

Add green and yellow beans, kidney beans, onion, and parsley to vinegar mixture; toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight to let flavors meld. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Salad can be covered and refrigerated up to 4 days.

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