You know what they say: if it tastes good it’s not good for you. These days the only exceptions seams to be chocolate, I am kidding, totally not, that’s what I need to believe. Let’s say there are two exceptions that prove the rule: the delicious Mediterranean cuisine is known for colorful vegetables, lots of omegas from fresh saltwater fish, plant-base proteins from beans, herbs and olive oil and red wine (here you go!). I am not so sure about the latter, but that’s ok.
Green beans have a bad reputation due to the not so much haute cuisine green bean casserole, which appears on every table in the US on Thanksgiving Day. I am talking about the canned mushroom soup version with French fried onion (are those even real food?). But green beans can do better than that, cooked until crisp-tender with flavor from garlic and olives and a hint of lemon.
Such as my imaginary grandma down there in the South of Italy would went to the farmers market and get the freshest ingredients for her dinner, I went to the grocery store and tried my best. I looked for the good olives, pitted but salty and firm, I picked the ripest tomatoes and the brightest green beans. But as it came down to the sourdough bread for the croutons, I had to compromise with store bought croutons and actually liked them. They put more oil on them, when I would ever dare and that’s a good thing. I bailed on the fresh herbs, because I thought I just use some from my herb garden and forgot about that I already harvested what I haven’t killed yet. And I also skipped the onion because I was going to share dinner with someone who couldn’t stand them. Damn it. If I were you I would go for red onions, just saying. I also was more than happy with just the lemon juice, more like a seasoning than a dressing. One of those dressings with anchovies would be great with this salad, if you insist on a dressing. Also Parmesan cheese would be a good substitute for feta.
- 450 g / 1 lb. green beans (I used Blue Lake Beans)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- about 6 small tomatoes
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. pitted green olives
- 4-5 Tbsp. crumbled feta
- one handful croutons (homemade is best but store bought is fine)
- 1 lemon, preferable organic
- 1-2 tsp. clarified butter, ghee (or 1 tsp. butter and 1 tsp. olive oil) for frying
- Wash the green beans, trim the ends and cut into 5cm / 2inch. pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add beans and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain and shock in a bowl of ice water. Drain again and let dry on a clean kitchen towel.
- Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add clarified butter and beans and cook for 4 minutes, stir occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer the beans to your salad bowl.
- Cut the green olives into thirds and the tomato into quarters. In a large bowl combine the fried beans, olives, tomatoes, feta, and croutons. Sprinkle with lemon zest and juice.