It’s been a few years since my third book was published, but the topic seems even more relevant today. The “50 Best Plants on the Planet” focuses on the world’s most nutrient dense fruits and vegetables. One of my favorite recipes from the book is the green bean and tomato salad mounded atop watercress or mixed baby greens.
Watercress serves as a crunch-packed bed for this delicious vegetable salad. IF YOU PREFER, you can substitute crisp baby greens.
The combination of blanched green beans, ripe tomatoes and red onions is classic.
Throw in a garnish of roasted cauliflower florets and this salad becomes over-the-moon delicious.
If serving as a main course, cook (and cool) one cup of farro; sprinkle it over the watercress before adding the green bean mixture.
Watercress and Green Bean Salad
Yield: 10 servings
2 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
2 bunches watercress or washed and drained 10 ounces baby greens
Optional: roasted cauliflower florets, see cook’s notes
1 medium lemon
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium-size red onion, cut into thin wedges from top to bottom
3 cups baby heirloom tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved
Cook’s notes: To roast cauliflower, preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss cauliflower florets (1 head, separated into 1- to 2-inch florets) with 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Roast 20 to 25 minutes, tossing twice during roasting. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
1. Prepare green beans and watercress several hours or a day in advance. For beans, bring a large pot of water to a boil on high heat. Add beans and boil 4 to 6 minutes, or until tender-crisp (cooking times vary depending on size of beans). Drain and refresh with cold water. Wrap in kitchen towel and place in plastic bag. Refrigerate. (Skip this watercress step if using mixed baby greens.) Cut thick stems off watercress and rinse in bowl of cold water. Drain and wrap in kitchen towel, place in partially closed plastic bag. Refrigerate.
2. If adding cauliflower, roast, cool and refrigerate well sealed (see cook’s notes).
3. Prepare dressing. Finely grate the zest of lemon and place in small bowl. Cut lemon in half and add juice of half lemon to bowl. Stir in mustard, plus salt and pepper to taste. Stir in oil. Taste; if desired, add more lemon juice to taste. Add red onion and stir; set aside for at least 1 hour, or cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours.
4. Just before serving, place watercress on platter. Toss beans with dressing and onions. Use tongs to lift beans from bowl and place in center of watercress. Place tomatoes around beans and spoon any vinaigrette left in bowl over tomatoes. If using, push cauliflower florets in between tomatoes. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper. Serve.
Nutritional information (per serving without cauliflower): calories 110; fat calories 70, total fat 8 grams; sat fat 1 gram, cholesterol 0 milligrams; sodium 30 milligrams; total carbohydrates 11 grams; fiber 4 grams; sugars 5 grams; protein 3 grams; vitamin A IUs 35%; vitamin C 50%; calcium 8%; iron 8%.
Source: “50 Best Plants on the Planet” by Cathy Thomas (Chronicle)