And then that moment of summer arrives when the green beans are piled so high at the markets, and being sold at such a low price, that you feel like you'd be a fool not to pick up a pound or two or five. I mean they are practically giving them away for free. (And if you have a garden, then you may be trying to give away a pound or two or five.)
So you bring home that hill — or mountain — of green beans, and you have to figure out what to do with them.
Sauteing some green beans in a bit of olive oil and butter and then finishing them off by adding some water or broth to the pan and steaming them — that's the way I go most of the time. Quite delicious, with a nice dusting of salt and pepper, and they go with everything. After a few days though, my family starts to look at me with flickers of boredom in their eyes. And I still have mountains of beans to climb.
That's where bean salads come into play. A great late-summer, early-fall way to put those beans to use. Not to mention bean salads are portable, picnic-worthy and can be made ahead of time.
This one is so simple — really just beans with a vinaigrette. A day in the fridge will deepen the flavor.
If you wanted to go for a warm bean salad, skip the ice-water bath and cook the beans for about 5 minutes until still crisp tender. Drain and toss the warm beans with the vinaigrette, then let cool slightly. The beans will continue to soften a bit as they cool in the vinaigrette, so make sure to drain them before they are too tender.
Creole mustard is a coarse, stone-ground mustard, zippy and with a nice, nubby texture. Once this ingredient becomes part of your pantry, it will never NOT be there. Any Louisianan will tell you, don't you dare make a remoulade sauce without it. But if you wanted to use a coarse Dijon, that will also work just fine (just don't shoot your mouth off about it down South).
HONEY CREOLE MUSTARD GREEN BEANS
Servings: 4 to 6
Start to finish: 15 minutes
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Creole mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a medium-size bowl with ice water. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well, and plunge them into the bowl of ice water. Drain when they have cooled.
While the beans are cooking, in a large serving bowl, whisk together the honey, Creole mustard, vinegar, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
Toss the cooled green beans in the dressing, taste and adjust seasonings as needed, and serve at room temperature.
Nutrition information per serving: 104 calories; 35 calories from fat; 4 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 339 mg sodium; 16 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 3 g protein.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.