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Katie Davis

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Archive for May 27th, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010 @ 11:05 AM

007I have mentioned before how I rarely follow recipes when I cook; and especially when it comes to salads, I tend to just buy the bagged stuff (gasp, I know the horror!) or throw a variety of ingredients together and hope for the best.  However, lately I have found that as summer approaches and I crave more and more fresh items, it is fun to try some new things and expand my palette; and although I am familiar with most ingredients, I am often at a loss for what specific things go well together, especially in salad form.  I would say at this point in my life I know that fruit and sweeter dressings pair well with spinach or romaine, caesar and parmesan are a match made in Heaven, and ranch goes good on ANYTHING…I bet it’s even good on a sock :).  However, outside of the basics, I am clueless, which is how I came across this month’s recipe.

My mom’s birthday was a few weeks back, and like we do for so many family occasions, we decided to all get together and cook to celebrate. My dad was in the head chef for this particular evening (he made ribs…yum!), and he asked me if I would put together a couple fun salads to go along with his dishes, which I was more than happy to do. However, this time, I knew my “throw in the bowl” method just wouldn’t cut it. I mean…come on, it’s my mother’s birthday, and you need to step it up for such an occasion. Still, remember…me clueless at a time like this, so I did what any person living in 2010 would do….Google!

Type in “salad recipes” in Google and you come up with 7,680,000 results; and just going onto Food Network’s website alone and searching “salad,” it will give you 5414 options to choose from…wowzers!  Well, Food Network’s website had the solution; and I was able to find a couple of wonderful choices from some famous chefs, one of which really stood out…Guy Fieri’s ‘Green Bean, Walnut, and Feta Salad.’

Green Bean, Walnut and Feta Salad

Recipe courtesy Guy Fieri

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
5 min
Level:
Easy
Serves:
4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and season with a large pinch of salt. Add the green beans and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until tender but still crisp. Transfer to a boil of iced water to cool and then drain and pat dry.

Add the green beans, onions, and walnuts to a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the vinaigrette over the green beans, onions, and walnuts and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter and top with crumbled feta and freshly cracked black pepper.

Source

My mom said this recipe stood out to her because of its ingredients. I knew the walnuts would especially draw her in, and I had to admit the combo sounded awesome.  I think I was especially intrigued that it required no lettuce, but rather the beans make the base.  This recipe was very simple to create, and the only real tedious part was preparing the green beans and red onion, and all that required was chopping a load of red onion and cooking the beans until tender. Like I said…pretty simple.  However, I will say this now. Do NOT overcook the green beans (til mushy), because there is no way they will withstand the acidity of the dressing. This didn’t happen to us, but I’m sure what you’ll end up with is green bean mush…yuk! What you want is a nice crisp bean, that has the texture and room for the dressing to set in…yum!

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While the beans were simmering I was toasting my walnuts in the oven.  We decided to by unsalted walnuts, so I wanted to crisp them up a bit and add that little salty bite against the sweetness of the vinaigrette.  The beans were ready in mere moments, so I took them off and let them sit and cool while I prepared the vinaigrette dressing.  Lastly, it was time to toss the beans, onions, and walnuts together with that vinaigrette and sprinkle a generous amount of feta and crushed black pepper over the top.  The final result is simple and delicious!

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EASE OF PREPERATION: Overall, this dish was super easy to prepare and accurate as far as the time needed for preparation.  The recipe calls for a 30 minutes, and although it may have taken me a bit longer, I do tend to chat a lot when I cook, I didn’t know the recipe by heart, and was enjoying a glass of wine. 🙂

COST: The cost was relatively cheap since I believe my parents had all the vinaigrette ingredients in the house already and the only purchases were green beans, walnuts, and red onion.  And as I mentioned, it was very easy to toast the walnuts myself.

COMPLEXITY: With only 4 dry ingredients and the dressing, I’d say this was pretty straight forward as far as salads go.

PORTION SIZE: The recipe says it yields 5-6 servings and with 6 of us dining we had plenty for everyone and leftovers remaining.  Now we had also made two salads and had tons of other food, so I think if this was a main side dish it would probably feed just 5 or 6 perfectly.

TASTE:  We all agreed this dish was delicious and one to add to our regular repertoire (including my vegetable phobic husband! ;)).  It was a great alternative to boring old green beans and had a wonderful zing from the vinaigrette that paired extremely well with the saltiness of the feta. Also, the walnuts added a wonderful crunch and nuttiness.  Perhaps what made this dish taste so good was how the beans were able to soak up so much flavor from the dressing. With every bite there was an explosion of all the flavors from the ingredients in your mouth…and it was D-E-LICIOUS!!!

I think the topper to this recipe was that it was such a pretty dish, as well, and it could easily be a great dish to entertain with.  In fact, my mom even re-made the dish for guests the following week, which I think says a lot.  In the end, I was a huge fan of this tasty simple summer side and I look forward to making it again.  I give Guy Fieri’s Green Bean, Walnut, and Feta Salad 5 Little Piggies!

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