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Crisp Green Bean Salad

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The sun is coming up on this beautiful day and the temperature outside is cool. Many of our early fall days don’t stay cool very long and you know that it will soon change as the day goes on and the temperature heats up. Right now, with all the smoke in the air from the fires here in northern California, I like to do my picking first thing in the morning. There is nothing better than getting out in the morning and going through the garden to see what God and Mother Nature have given us. We’re getting down to the last of the green beans in the garden as we head into the fall. Today I picked a half of a small bucket of beans, just enough to have for dinner. Now I just need to figure out what to have for dinner.

There are several varieties of green beans and this year I planted a bush bean. Beans are a hearty vegetable that has been planted in gardens for hundreds of years. I have a small area at my dad’s that is perfect for this type of bean. The secret to a good crop of beans is related to your harvest. The more you pick the beans, the more beans the plant will produce. We have enjoyed beans all summer and I love the fresh, crisp crunch of this wonderful vegetable. I have prepared them in many different ways this year. They have been used in my foil pouches with potatoes, onions and green beans topped with crushed garlic and olive oil and placed on the grill until tender. I have roasted them in the oven with garlic and parmesan cheese, boiled them in chicken broth and butter with carrot rings, and fried them with bacon and onion. We have also preserved several bags, cleaned, blanched and frozen to use this winter. We can use them as they are or add them to soups and stews. I try not to let anything go to waste, which keeps me very busy. But tonight, we are going to use them in a green bean salad. This fresh, easy side dish goes great with chicken, steaks and pork chops. The best part of this recipe is that I love the leftovers for lunch the next day after the beans have soaked up the dressing. It’s one of those recipes that’s better the second day. Let’s get started.

Crispy Green Bean Salad

2 pounds green beans, snapped and cut in half
14 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup feta cheese, cubed
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. salt and pepper
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

After you snap the ends of the beans and cut them in half, parboil the green beans. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil, fill a large bowl with ice and water and set aside. When the water comes to a boil, add a teaspoon of salt and the green beans. Boil for 2 minutes but do not overcook; you want them to be crisp. Remove immediately from the water and place them in the ice water to stop the cooking process.

While the beans are cooling, make the dressing. I use a pint Mason jar and lid. This makes it easy to shake to combine and to store. In the jar place the minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. Then shake until combined.

Drain the green beans in a colander and pat dry. In your serving bowl, add the tomatoes, onion, basil and parsley. Pat the green beans dry with a paper towel and add them to the bowl, stirring to combine. Add the dressing and the feta and gently combine. You can serve immediately or place in the refrigerator until you’re ready for dinner.

Tonight, the grill is hot and the chicken is done; all we need is the salad and we are ready to eat. This is a great dinner and healthy, too. Again, another favorite of mine from my recipe box to your dinner table. May the Lord bless you all and your families. Amen.