Around this time of year, I always get an overabundance of one particular crop. Last summer, it was zucchini. This summer, it’s beans.
Spring rainstorms flooded a few of my bush bean seedlings back in April, and who knew that every single seed I stuck in the ground to replace them would each grow into a ridiculously productive plant? I never got around to thinning out the seedlings, and now, all 15 of my plants are nearly falling over with bundles of beans on their branches.
The upside is that it’s summer, and summer means salads. My three bean summer salad (made with another seasonal staple, sweet corn) can feed a whole crowd of hungry friends, travels well to picnics, and makes a light and refreshing side to all those heavy and smoky meats you find on a summer grill.
I used Royal Burgundy, Dragon Tongue, and Beurre de Rocquencourt beans from my garden. You can use any kind of string bean, wax bean, long bean, or even canned beans (like kidney and garbanzo) in this recipe, but I do recommend using three different beans in three different colors for a nice presentation. For corn, I cheated and used canned corn because my Country Gentleman sweet corn wasn’t ripe yet, but I think the addition of grilled corn (shaved off the cob) would be amazing!
Three Bean Summer Salad
Makes 8 servings
For the Salad
2 1/2 pounds mixed fresh beans
2 stalks celery with leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cups sweet corn kernels
Chile pepper, minced, to taste (optional)
For the Dressing
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup sugar
1 teaspoon stone ground Dijon mustard
I usually don’t weigh my ingredients, but I couldn’t resist using this vintage scale from my fiancé’s mother!
If you pick your beans while they’re still young and tender, there’s no need to do anything beyond washing and drying them.
If some of your beans are a bit more mature, you can blanch them to slightly tenderize them while maintaining crispness. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop them in for three minutes, then immediately plunge them into a bath of ice water for at least three minutes.
You’ll notice that some of the purple was blanched out of the beans; this is typical of purple beans.
Trim off the ends and cut your beans into bite-sized lengths.
Mix in the celery, onions, and sweet corn (and chile pepper, if using — I added a little serrano for a spicy kick).
Whisk together the dressing, then pour over your salad and toss well.
You can dig in now, but it’s even better if you let the salad sit for a couple of hours and marinate. This is the perfect make-ahead dish because the flavors develop deeper the next day with none of that soggy saladness. Use it as an excuse to host a summer-lovin’ BBQ at your house!