The Long, Hot Summer. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Some Like It Hot. I don’t know about you but I just love a sultry summer, and we are sure getting one this year in the Northeast. Summertime humidity… It makes your hair curl and your skin glow, and dapples your water glass with beads of condensation. I think it’s kinda sexy. Of course, not everyone agrees with me, and plenty of my friends are getting fed up with the heat.
So what do you do when you’re feeling wilted by the mid-day sun, dabbing away at your dewy brow and glistening collar bones? Well lately, my answer is to get daily chores out of the way early and to avoid a hot kitchen like the plague. When I have a little extra time, I like to prepare cool salads and sun tea (lemon-mint is my favorite) in the morning, so that I can enjoy a languid lunch in the hammock or a slow dinner on the terrace later. Chilled summer salads are particularly wonderful when it gets this hot. Cucumber, tomato, arugula, pea and pasta; why the combinations are almost limitless in high summer. But at the moment, my favorite just happens to be a cool salad of haricots verts and feta…
Haricots verts —or French-style filet beans— are slender, beautifully green and very flavorful. All beans should be picked frequently in mid-summer —daily when hot— to insure a steady crop. Unpicked beans will stop producing if allowed to go to seed. When the mercury rises, I think it’s best to pick beans very early in the morning, to enjoy later in the day. Summer savory, which is believed to improve the growth of bush beans and deter beetles, is a fantastic companion plant for haricots verts. Soil enriched with well rotted compost and regular foliar feeding (applying liquid fertilizer to leaves in a spray or shower) with Neptune’s Harvest or fish emulsion will help to provide a beautiful, tasty crop. Always wash beans thoroughly when harvesting, especially after applying fish emulsion or any fertilizer. I like to freeze bags of haricots verts to enjoy in wintertime, but I also love them steamed, sauteed, served in soup —and of course— in chilled salads…
Chilled Salad of Haricots Verts with Feta
Ingredients – Serves 6:
1 Pound of freshly haricots verts (filet beans) end stems trimmed
1 Large red onion chopped coarsely
1 Clove garlic minced
5 Tbs fresh chopped cilantro (more or less to taste)
2 Tsp fresh chopped oregano
4 Red or pink radishes sliced thin (other colors may be used, the red is a nice contrast)
1 Pint sungold or other cherry tomatoes cut into quarters or 2 heirloom yellow and/or red tomatoes cut into small wedges
6 Ounces freshly crumbled feta
4 Tbs fruity red wine vinegar or raspberry/red wine vinegar
6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pour an inch or two of water into a pot with steamer. Bring the water to a boil. Place beans in a steamer (or colander) above the boiling water. Cover and steam for approximately 7 minutes. Check frequently and remove from the heat when just tender (the texture of fresh beans is ruined when overcooked). Rinse the beans in cool water and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar.
Transfer the beans into a large bowl. Add the onion, garlic, cilantro, oregano, radishes and crumbled feta. Add in fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste. Add the vinegar and oil and toss. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
For a a pretty, colorful presentation, arrange the salad on a large platter and top with red and orange tomatoes and a bit of cilantro. You can also simply toss everything together and serve on individual plates or bowls.
Of course, when it comes to loving summer, a little, steamy, celluloid-inspiration can’t hurt…
Article and photographs © 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden
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