When one thinks of comfort foods, we often think of something loaded with fat or sugar, or both. Here's proof that's just not so.
Green Bean Salad has been a summer favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. Other than a splash of olive oil -- which is a heart healthy oil -- it's pretty low calorie. A cup of fresh green beans is just 34 calories, and the calories in the other ingredients, lemon juice, garlic and salt, are negligible.
The only time I make Green Bean Salad is when I can purchase fresh, local string beans, and then, usually from a local farm stand or farmer's market. I had a hankering for this recipe a few weeks ago, and while at the grocery store, I started sorting through the selection. They were limp and blemished, and just not very appealing.
I decided to pass and when the weekend rolled around, I took a ride out to a local farm and bought two pounds of the most perfect green beans I'd ever seen. I washed them and then sat down to snap the ends off (I just take off the ends that were connected to the plant. You can leave the pointy end intact.) Out of all those beans, there was only one that had any marks on it.
I cooked them until they were crisp tender, then plunged them into some ice water to seal in the nice green color and to stop the cooking process. Then I chilled them overnight.
Normally I add the dressing right away, and then refrigerate the salad, but I wasn't serving these until the next day. While they still taste great, and maybe even have a deeper flavor, the bright green color dulls a bit from the lemon, so they aren't as visually appealing. I find the same thing happens when I make broccoli this way.
The only bad thing about making this dish is that I typically pick at these while I'm making the rest of my meal. I have to start with a large batch of green beans to make sure enough will make it to the table.
Truth be told, I love these so much, I'd be happy with nothing but a big bowl of Green Bean Salad for dinner. It's a dish that reminds me of my mother and summer, and there's nothing more comforting than that.
Green Bean Salad
2 pounds fresh green beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 large lemon, or 1 and one-half medium lemons
3 cloves garlic, sliced in one eighth-inch pieces
Wash green beans and snap off the end, removing tough strings if necessary. Cook beans in about a quart of boiling salted water until crisp tender, about five minutes. I check the beans by sampling one. You want them cooked, but still crisp.
Drain then plunge into ice water, or rinse in cold running water to stop cooking.
Drain again. In a large bowl, add beans and drizzle with olive oil; then add salt and garlic. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the beans, then toss. You can add more salt, garlic or lemon according to your own taste. Refrigerate until serving.
For more recipes from Comfort & Joy, go to www.tnonline.com/lifestyle/comfort-and-joy .