The one thing that the $100 Challenge and my CSA are teaching me is to make sure that I use the fresh produce I have before it goes bad in the refrigerator. That may seem like no big deal, but in the past, I have been guilty of purchasing fresh produce at the grocery store, letting it sit in my refrigerator for a week or so, and then throwing it away because it was spoiled. That just doesn’t fit into my budget, and it is wasteful. My goal with the CSA was to use all of the produce I receive and not throw any of it away. So far, I have been successful.
Last week, in our first CSA share, we got a large bag of green beans. A few days later, my mom dropped off another bag of green beans from her garden. I also picked a handful of green beans from my garden. I simply steamed some of the green beans one night and we had them along with the “Amazing” pork chops. Unfortunately, that barely made a dent in my green bean collection. So, I decided to make a green bean salad with my remaining green beans.
Enter my foodie friends on twitter (@ksiddiqi92, @bakingblog, @ScottManlin, and @jo_jo_ba to name a few!)… I mentioned that intended to make a green bean salad and got all kinds of great advice. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think I stole anyone’s idea, but after quite a few great suggestions and a bit of discussion regarding how to deal with the garlic (raw, roasted, etc.), I decided to make a batch of garlic basil olive oil to flavor the salad. Combined with some good quality aged Balsamic vinegar, I had a quick and easy salad with a wonderful tangy and sweet dressing with a hint of basil and garlic.
Green Bean Salad:
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed
- 1/4 cup garlic basil oil (recipe follows)
- 1 tablespoon aged Balsamic vinegar
- Handful golden cherry tomatoes, quartered (these were from my garden, I used what I had on hand)
- Fresh chopped basil (again, on hand from the garden)
Add the green beans to salted boiling water. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the color is bright but the beans still have a crisp texture. Immediately transfer the green beans to a large bowl of ice water to shock them and stop the cooking process. Drain the green beans and transfer them to a large bowl.
Dress the green beans with the garlic basil oil and Balsamic vinegar. Toss to evenly coat. Garnish with the quartered cherry tomatoes and freshly chopped basil. Serve immediately.
Garlic Basil Oil:
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Handful fresh basil (I used some of the mini basil from my garden)
- 2 cloves garlic
Peel the two cloves of garlic and smash (with the back of your chef’s knife). There’s no need to chop the garlic – smashing will release the flavors and make it easier to strain out the garlic when the oil is done.
Put the oil, basil, and garlic in a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Keep an eye on the temperature to make sure that the garlic doesn’t burn . The garlic and basil should simmer slightly. Cook on medium-low heat for about 20-25 minutes to infuse the oil with the flavors from the garlic and basil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Remove the basil and garlic from the oil (either with a strainer or a slotted spoon). If you are not going to use the oil right away (less than two hours), transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
Important Note – DO NOT (under any circumstance) put in a canning jar or bottle and keep in your pantry. For food safety reasons, I am definitely not suggesting that you make this as a gift. It is, however, OK to make a small batch for yourself to keep in the fridge for up to a week.