Wednesday, September 23, 2009


At this time of the year, I get a little cranky about living in Southern California. It’s fall—school’s started (and with it, the horrific post-Labor-Day traffic), the days are getting shorter (it’s dark when I get up in the morning and nearly dark when I come home at night), the clothing stores are full of wool and fleece, and I’ve even seen a few leaves turning orange (yes, some of our trees do change colors in the autumn, contrary to popular belief). The food blogs are suddenly full of talk of pumpkins, apples, long-simmered soups, and pot roasts. And…it’s 103 degrees in Pasadena. September is traditionally one of our hottest months, not to mention that some part of the Southland is usually on fire. It’s still too hot for me to even make ice cream, let alone start canning and braising and roasting and baking and cuddling up under blankets the way online peer pressure and my own Northern instincts compel me to.

But I’m trying to look on the bright side. At least I get a little longer to say goodbye to summer and perfect all my salad recipes, right? Like the other night I revisited this one from Cooking Light, which I first made a few months ago and enjoyed, but never got around to writing about. I couldn’t get wax beans, my photos turned out sort of blah, and A—who I’d expected to be enthusiastic about anything involving bacon—was skeptical (“the pieces are too big and it’s hard to eat”). So, in the midst of this new heat wave, I thought I’d give it another shot—this time, with wax beans, a little extra bacon, and the beans and potatoes halved crosswise to address A’s objections. The result was a perfectly pleasant potato-green bean salad, heavy on the green beans (I like that), dressed in a simple vinaigrette, and jazzed up with crumbles of bacon. It’s good…but if this doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, it’s because not even the allure of bacon can rival the other potato-green bean salad in my life, the one I discovered a few weeks ago and can’t stop craving. So I’m not sure whether this recipe will quite make it into my repertoire. But I recommend it to you, and I might turn to it every now and again, just for variety, when summer starts feeling a little too long.

¾ pound green beans, trimmed
½ pound wax beans, trimmed
½ pound fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
¼ cup white wine vinegar, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Cook beans in boiling water 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and run under cold water for a few minutes, then let drain again.

2. Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until tender; drain. Return potatoes to pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar to pan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

3. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle beans with vinegar mixture; toss well to coat. Place beans on a serving platter; arrange potatoes over beans. Sprinkle with remaining ¼teaspoon salt, parsley, and bacon. Serve at room temperature.

Serves: 6
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: OK. The vinegar will discolor the green beans, so it won’t be as pretty, but it will still taste fine.

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