Something Easy and Different: Runner Bean and Raw Asparagus Salad
Like almost everyone else, I have been enamored with Joshua McFadden's Six Seasons. At first I resisted. Seasonal market cooking. Really? Again? Yes, really. The story is the seasons but in the end, it's simply a great book for people who find the produce section the most interesting part of food shopping. The recipes are simple and straightforward without a lot of chef-y pretense and my copy, less than a year old, is filthy from use. Splattered with some really good memories. One of my favorite recipes has been the raw asparagus salad. With the new asparagus coming right now, it's a great time to experiment. As the season wears on, or as the asparagus has to travel farther to get here, it can be woody and lackluster. This is really a recipe for super fresh vegetables. I have been faithful to my microplane zester but more and more, I prefer the grater or a citrus zester. Not for everything, but I don't want my pasta cheese to always be fluffy and ethereal. Sometimes I want it grated. I am a rebel that way. So for this recipe, I zested my Meyers lemon into strips and chopped them. I grated my Parmesan cheese with a fine grater. The original recipe has no beans in it. I had about a cup of cooked leftover, drained Scarlet Runner beans, which as of this writing are unavailable, but Ayocote Morado and Ayocote Negro are also runner beans and equally at home in this recipe. I mad the salad again with the much smaller and denser Yellow Indian Woman beans and they were great. I haven't tried this with white beans yet but there's no reason to think they wouldn't be work. Whatever bean you use, bring them to room temperature and drain them well, saving the bean broth for something fine like soup. This is a good traveling recipe. If you're thinking of a pot luck or prepping earlier in the day, try making a bowl of the wet ingredients and and another for the dry and then toss them at the last minute with the olive oil. Recipe: Asparagus and Runner Bean Salad Adapted from a recipe by Joshua McFadden (Six Seasons, Artisan Books, 2017) Ingredients: 1/3 cup dried breadcrumbs 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 1/2 cup chopped lightly toasted black walnuts 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 pound asparagus, trimmed 1 cup cooked Rancho Gordo Scarlet Runner beans, Ayocote Morado or Ayocote Negros (or Yellow Indian Woman) About 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice Extra-virgin olive oil In a large bowl, toss the breadcrumbs, cheese, walnuts, lemon zest, mint leaves, salt and pepper. Mix well. Cut the asparagus on a sharp angle into very thin slices and in another bowl, toss with the beans, the lemon juice and some olive oil. Just before serving, toss the two bowls together and check for seasoning, adding more olive oil, lemon or salt as needed.