I have been anxiously waiting spring’s arrival and with that there have been cravings for something bright. Lemon blueberry cakes have been nibbled on with lady grey tea in hand, various fruit smoothies have been blended after dinner, and I even made my own Limoncello for the first warm night we have; ready to be corked in a month!
But tonight I needed something acidic.
Perhaps it’s because I’m half Japanese, but I love bright, acidic flavors. Pickled cucumbers, pickled plums; it all gets piled atop a little bowl of white rice. Luckily for Roo, it didn’t come down to me sitting on the floor (because everything is tastier when you’re not sitting in a chair), eating bowl after bowl of white rice topped with mysterious pickled items. I think if he found me with my back against the wall, belly bloated, with bits of rice in my hair, that that would be a deal breaker.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
One pound green beans
1 medium red onion (this gives you a lot, if you don’t think you’d like a lot of onion, go with 1/2)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (I’m an acid addict. If you’re weary, start with a 1/4 cup and adjust to taste)
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar (I used raw cane sugar)
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt (I used Diamond, if you have something finer, please use 1/2 tablespoon)
1/3 cup whole almonds (I realize that whole almonds are a bit pricey. I have used slivered almonds, and these also work)
1 tablespoon olive oil
*Keep your olive oil around if you want to balance out the acidity of your salad (about 2 tablespoons)
*Keep your salt around for boiling your green beans
A very sharp knife
A Cutting board
A large pot (that can fit your pound of green beans and about eight cups of water)
A sautè pan (medium sized, does not need tall sides)
Two large bowls
One smaller bowl (like one you use for eating cereal with)
A heat resistant (ie not plastic) plate (covered with one or two paper towels)
In a small bowl, combine red wine vinegar, water, sugar and salt. If you started with 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, whisk the ingredients together and taste. If the acidity is sufficient, leave it. If not, adjust to taste.
If you’re using a whole red onion, cut it in half, then slice (both halves, one at a time) very thinly. If you’re only using half an onion, great, you can skip a step and start slicing it thinly straight away. Add the onion slices to your small bowl with the pickling solution. Let it sit for at least a half an hour. I usually let it sit for an hour (as it takes me about an hour to finish cooking dinner).
Put about 6 – 8 cups of salted (I add a few tablespoons) water into your large pot and bring to a boil. Wash your green beans and trim the tails. Add the green beans when your water is at a rolling boil. Cook 4 – 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare your ice water bath in one of the large bowls (I add about 10 – 12 ice cubes to a large bowl of water, filled halfway). If you don’t want to use an ice water bath, then cook the green beans a minute less, since they will continue to still cook when you remove them from the boiling water.
After 4 minutes, turn the burner off, and remove the green beans from the pot with your tongs, into the ice water bath. After all the green beans have been “bathed,” drain the green beans into a colander. They can hang out in the colander until you assemble the salad.
Over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil into a sautè pan. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the almonds. Roll the almonds around the pan (if whole 2 – 3 minutes, if slivered, ~1 minute) until coffee (black, no milk) colored. Be careful to not let the almonds sit in the oil for too long in one spot as they will burn. Remove the almonds from the pan, and move to a plate lined with one or two paper towels to pick up any excess oil. Season with a pinch of salt (if desired) and let cool.
After an hour (or at least thirty minutes) of the pickling solution working its magic on those red onions, you can assemble your salad. Plate the salad by picking up a mound of green beans with your tongs. Add the pickled onions (don’t forget about the pickling solution, it’s delicious!) and top with the fried almonds. I will admit that I grabbed a handful of the almonds (sorry Roo) and spooned about two tablespoons of the pickling solution on top of my salad. If you find it too acidic for your palate (the pickling solution alone), you can mellow it out with a tablespoon (or two) of olive oil.