Summer salad: Green beans & potatoes

0723CFor me, salads in summer are generally made of whatever I find in the fridge that can be put on the table in edible form quickest. This one is useful in that it absorbs much of the over-abundant green bean production from my vegetable garden, but also tastes cool but flavoursome in the summer heat.
The beans that don’t go into this – or get eaten directly in many other forms – end up in the freezer, as explained towards the bottom of this post. As with all home-grown produce squirreled away, it’s like meeting up with an old friend when you bring the beans out on a winter’s day.

French or runner beans – 300 g
Potatoes – 5 medium
Courgette – 2 small
Feta cheese – 200 g
Red onion – 1 medium
Parsley – bunch
Olive oil

Peel the onion, cut it in half from top to bottom then cut paper-thin slices to make half-circles. Put these into a small bowl and sprinkle a teaspoon or two of salt over them until they’re well covered. The salt ‘cooks’ the onions, softening them and taking away some of the bitterness.

Peel the potatoes – preferably new waxy ones – and cut them into cubes which should be about 1 cm square. Cutting them this small means they cook extra-fast; it also means, however, that boiling them generally turns them into a nasty pulp so it’s best to steam them. (If you don’t have a steamer basket, cut them slightly larger.) Rinse the pieces, then steam them gently, keeping a close eye on them to make sure they’re not cooking too much.

Top and tail the beans, which should be young, crisp and stringless. If they’re long, cut them into pieces about 5-7 cm long. Cut the courgettes (zucchini) into quarters lengthwise, then across into 1 cm pieces. When the potatoes are not-quite-done, throw the beans and courgettes in with them – if you get your timing right the green veg should steam for about four minutes.

Cut the feta into centimetre-square cubes, or smaller. Rinse the onion very well under running water to remove all the salt. Chop the parsley as fine as you can. Put these ingredients into a large-ish serving bowl.

When the potatoes, beans and courgettes are cooked – and it’s best to do little more than heat the green veg through, leaving them al dente – take the steamer basket off the heat and give them a minute to cool down, before adding them to the serving bowl with the other ingredients and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Toss everything well, and eat the salad tepid.

©Anne Hanley, 2013

About Gardens, Food & Umbria

I am a garden and landscape designer, working throughout central Italy and beyond. I have lived in Italy for over 35 years – first in Rome but now in Città della Pieve, Umbria, where I have restored my country home and transformed a medieval townhouse into three rental suites. To relax, I tinker endlessly with two and a half hectares of land, some of which is my garden.
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