Sometimes I get into trouble with you my gentle readers because I don’t always do “wow” recipes. What I mean is seared scallops can knock it out of the park and many people are cruising the blogs looking for those iconic images to satisfy their tastiest food fantasies. So in my heart, I know today’s Avocado Watercress Salad with Green Beans will surely be a disappointment for those of you looking for truly inspired, gastro-molecular, gravity-defying-stacks of food. But my wallet (and my blood sugar) can’t afford to enjoy these treats on a daily basis.
I also know that several of you nice folks are gonna leave me sweet messages saying how you think all my recipes are “wow”. To those of you so inclined, I’ll say “Thank You” in advance for those kind words, but there’s really no need to pat my ego this way. Because, as much as I love bringing on the wow-factor every once and again, I honestly enjoy real food and real life here just as much as anything.
Green Bean Salad
Real food and real life includes eating seasonally for me. Prime season for ripe California Avocados starts right now. Which is why I have chosen this Avocado Watercress Salad with Green Beans. It’s fresh and seasonal. It has just a few ingredients; each one chosen to augment the other. While, it’s true that this is “just a salad” I like to think that it is in no way boring. Because you don’t need to switch into zombie mode every time you make a green salad. A salad does not have to limit itself to tomatoes and carrots.
Take this salad; nary a lettuce leaf to be found. But it’s a winning combination nonetheless. It has diverse textures and bold flavors. The creamy California Hass Avocados I chose are a luxurious counterpoint to the crunch and snap of barely cooked green beans. Cucumber adds a certain coolness to the mouth that further enhances these great textures. Lots of lemon and mint make the flavors bright, but the peppery bite of watercress keeps it from getting too cloying.
Now I am no genius, and that’s my point. Think about the foods you are putting together. You needn’t always look to classic combinations on well-trod paths. Be bold, follow your instincts– put together uncomplicated, fresh ingredients that please the palate as well as they eye! Because sometimes the simplest of ingredients, showcased in an unexpected or thoughtful manner can be the most impressive. Give your diner a moment to think, “Aha! That’s so easy, why didn’t I think of that?”
Which doesn’t mean you won’t find a perfect sliver of seared goose liver resting on toasted brioche and served alongside a dollop of pineapple and pink peppercorn chutney right here on these pages sometime soon. Because my interests and tastes are diverse. I find joy in the simplicity of good food as well as the drama of true gastronomy. So keep coming back. I always want to keep you guessing. GREG
California Avocados did not compensate me for this post, but as a Californian I love to promote California produce whenever I can.
- juice of one lemon
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1/2 t kosher salt, plus more for boiling water
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 oz green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced thinly
- 1 bunch watercress, thick stems removed
- 1/2 c whole mint leaves, loosely packed
- lemon wedges as garnish
- 1 large ripe, creamy avocado, such as hass
Prepare an ice water bath; set aside.
Halve, peel and pit the avocado, cutting it into 1/2″ chunks. Put the avocado into a serving bowl large enough for the finished salad. Whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil until well emulsified and creamy. Pour the mixture over the avocado and toss them until well coated so they do not discolor.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt. Blanch the green beans until tender-crisp, 4–5 minutes. Immediately transfer them to the ice-bath to stop cooking. Drain well, and add them to the bowl with the avocado, followed the cucumber slices, watercress, and mint leaves. Gently toss until the salad is evenly dressed. Season with salt and pepper and serve with additional lemon wedges.
Greg Henry writes the food blog Sippity Sup- Serious Fun Food, and contributes the Friday column on entertaining for The Back Burner at Key Ingredient. He’s active in the food blogging community, and a popular speaker at IFBC, Food Buzz Festival and Camp Blogaway. He’s led cooking demonstrations in Panama & Costa Rica, and has traveled as far and wide as Norway to promote culinary travel. He’s been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Los Angeles Times, More Magazine, The Today Show Online and Saveur’s Best of the Web. Greg also co-hosts The Table Set podcast which can be downloaded on iTunes or at Homefries Podcast Network.