Wednesday, November 24, 2010

CSA week one - Blue cheese, bacon and walnut green bean salad

Last minute Thanksgiving side-dish idea! I'm eating it by turkilessly and a day early myself, but you've probably got all the ingredients on hand and it would make a fine substitute for the usual green bean side-dish you had planned.

I modified this from a recipe I found on the Something blog. Kim Carney, who posted it, said that it came an issue of Parade Magazine. I tracked down the article and found it was by Sheila Lukins, author of the Silver Palate cookbook. Maybe I'm the only one who cares about proper attribution, particularly as I did change things around, but I care and it's my blog, so there.

1 thick slice or 2 thin slices bacon
1/4 cup walnut pieces
3/4 pound green beans, stemmed and snapped into sensible lengths
2 ounces strong blue cheese, crumbled (the original recipe called for twice this. I cut it down to 3 and still found it a bit too much.)
1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon parsley, finely minced (If you've got flat-leaf, or for some reason you like the texture of curly, chop less finely.)
1 and a bit Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

0. Bring a sizable pot of well-salted water to a boil.

1. Cook the bacon in your preferred manner until crisp. Reserve the fat. Chop the bacon.

2. Toast the walnuts.

3. When the water comes to a boil, add the green beans and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, mix the mustard and vinegar in a medium bowl. Add the garlic.

5. Add the bacon fat (I had a teaspoon's worth) and enough olive oil to bring it to 1 1/2 Tablespoons total. Whisk until well-emulsified and slightly thickened.

6. Remove the green beans from the water into a colander. Run under cold water briefly and pat or spin dry.

7. Lightly mix the beans with the walnuts, cheese, parsley and bacon. Add the vinaigrette. Do not mix well or the chunky bits will all migrate to the bottom. Mix judiciously.

Serve with turkey.

This is quite a nice combination of flavors and textures. Texturally, the green beans had a bit of firmness left to them, the cheese was meltingly creamy (which is important. This is a warm salad and wouldn't work nearly as well if you let the beans cool all the way down before adding the cheese.), the bacon and walnuts crisp. The parsley is pretty much lost. You should probably use a couple Tablespoons so it can assert itself a little more.

ON the flavor end, the blue cheese dominates at first in each bite, but any combination of the other elements can rise to the front depending on the particular forkful you got. The vinaigrette lends just a little tang and doesn't overwhelm the other flavors. I liked the walnut and green bean pairing particularly, probably because I toasted the walnuts right to the edge of burning. That flavor pairs with the beans much better than raw walnuts did. Bacon and walnut is a very pleasant paring, too.

Hmm...I think I've just had an ice cream idea.


LaDivaCucina said...

My green bean dish was a take on the trad casserole but with a creamed mushroom sherry sauce. It was a hit. I love this salad idea, especially that its warm.

Bean n bacon ice cream, Bill? You loco!

billjac said...

I just meant walnut and bacon ice cream, but you've got thinking now. Green sorbet might just work.

kat said...

Ok I wanna see that bacon & walnut ice cream