Many of my fans and patrons have been interested in and asking for more of what I call "sturdy salads" - lovely things made of vegetables and legumes and occasionally meats that can be stowed away in the fridge and eaten warm or cold or room temperature. One of our favorites is the Herbed Red Bean Salad I've made many times before. But it was very hot the other day, I was feeling green bean-ish, and was inspired by this little cookbooklet: Good Housekeeping's Book of Salads to heighten appetites and brighten meals (1958).
When I made this salad I couldn't find the recipe that I KNEW had inspired it, but I finally tracked it down in this lovely little cookbooklet. Now, there are definitely a million recipes in here for gelatin-and-whipped-cream-based "salads," but there are a surprising number of sturdy vegetable salads - just the kind I like.
Green Bean Parmesan Salad (1958)
Here's the original recipe, in case the print is too small to read!
2 lb. green beans, cut on angle into 2" pieces
1 small onion, minced
1/2 cup salad oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1 teasp. salt
1/4 teasp. pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablesp. chopped anchovy fillets (optional)
Cook beans in 1" boiling salted water, covered, until tender - about 15 min. Drain; cool. Toss beans with rest of ingredients. Refrigerate.
Green & White Bean Salad with Lemon & Parmesan
My recipe was a riff on that original. I wanted something a little more substantial for a supper dish, and I thought lemon would be a nice addition to the vinaigrette with the Parmesan. I will say, if I were to make it again, I would actually remember this time to include either minced white onion soaked in lemon juice, or thinly sliced scallions (which I had! But forgot to put in). Diced celery would also not be remiss in this salad - it needs a little extra crunch.
2 cans white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound green beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cream (optional)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan
Bring a few inches of water to boil in a large stock pot. Snap the stem ends and any bad ends off the green beans. Add to the boiling water and cook, covered, for 3-5 minutes (15 is too long!) until bright green and tender. Meanwhile, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, cream, and mustard in a serving bowl and fold in the white beans. Add the hot green beans and mix thoroughly to coat with the dressing. Add the Parmesan and toss to mix well.
Serve room temperature with toast.
I will say - this would probably be better if you mixed the dressing and the white beans the day before to let the beans fully marinate before adding the green beans.
Don't have cannellini beans? Substitute boiled cubed potatoes, steamed cauliflower florets, small white navy beans, or even pasta.
Don't have green beans? Substitute asparagus, snow peas, frozen garden peas, or even broccoli.
And if you're trying to stay away from carbs altogether, try a combination of just the green vegetables in the sauce.
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Sarah Wassberg Johnson has an MA in Public History from the University at Albany and studies early 20th century food history.
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