Thursday, February 25, 2010

Crunchy and Cold Bean Salad

This is a fun main dish salad which can totally be changed up, depending on what you have on hand. However, I must warn you that it is VERY labor intensive (preparing and cleaning the millions of dishes in creates) so don't do it without help. I think it took me an hour and a half to make this stinkin' salad. Granted, I loved it and will make it again but not unless Mark's in the kitchen boiling, chopping, sauteing, peeling, etc with me!

1 pound Fresh Green Beans
1 Zucchini
1 ear Fresh Corn or half a can of corn
½ White Or Red Onion
10 Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced In Half
1 Large Cucumber, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 can (15 Oz. Can) Garbanzo Beans
1/2 Cup Fresh Mozzarella (you can do more if you want)
2 Tablespoons Bacon Crumbles (highly Advised, But Totally Optional)
1 cup Cooked Cous Cous (totally Optional)
3 leaves Basil (Fresh REALLY makes a difference)
3 leaves Mint (I didn't use)

¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon Honey
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
¼ cups Olive Oil

Preparation Instructions
PREPARE ICE BATH in sink by filling a large bowl with cold water and ice.
I steam or boil (in generously salted water) beans, zucchini and corn all together. Until just barely cooked. Overcooking is to be avoided at all costs. You want the veggies to retain a crunch without being too tough.
IMMEDIATELY drain veggies and plunge into ice bath. This is an essential step to retain the bright green colors and the crunch of the beans and zucchini.
DRAIN AND DRY, THEN CHOP all veggies to desired size. For this recipe I like to cut the longer beans into 1-2 inch pieces. Same for zucchini. Cut the corn off the cob. Put them all into a large bowl. Add garbanzos, tomatoes and anything else you need to get rid of.
SELECT AND CHOP OR CRUMBLE CHEESE. Mix in with veggies. ADD BACON if using.
MAKE DRESSING: stir vinegar, honey and dijon together with a wire whisk. Add olive oil in a slow stream while constantly and vigorously whisking. About the time your arm wants to fall off, you will have a magical thick blend of dressing heaven. (As noted above, you can add up to a cup of olive oil to 1/4 c balsamic. I add as little as I need to get the desired thick consistency in order to keep fat and calories down.) Add to veggies and chill.
IMMEDIATELY BEFORE SERVING, julienne bail and mint and sprinkle over salad, cook cous cous and I serve it separately for my kids, but if I were to make for adults, I would put it all together.

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