This light, bright spring salad makes a great side dish at any meal. Packed full of plant protein and flavor, it is not one to miss! Simple and ready on the table in a matter of minutes.
Seasons: Spring, Fall, Summer
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 0 minutes
Makes: 4 servings
- 1 lb green beans
- 1 lb frozen organic edamame
- 1 english cucumber
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 Tablespoons of olive oil
- Small bunch of mint
- Small bunch of parsley
- Small bunch of chives
- ¼ the Recipe (1 cup) of Lemon Ricotta (simple substitute is sliced almonds)
- Salt and pepper to taste
This quick and easy recipe is ready in under fifteen minutes and comes together so easily. The first thing to note is that this is a compound recipe that calls upon a previous blog about a macadamia nut faux cheese which is creamy, rich, and delicious! The Lemon & Thyme Ricotta adds texture and a slight sweetness to this recipe, and many other recipes, so I highly recommend you get it in your rotation and keep it in your fridge on a regular basis. It is a five-minute recipe but it does require you to soak the nuts for at least a couple of hours or overnight beforehand so keep that in mind. If you don’t feel like making this miracle cheese, you can of course just substitute in some buttery, crunchy sliced nuts like almonds, pecans, or macadamias. The choice is yours!
This could actually be called “the bone-building salad” as it is rich in plant foods that contain large quantities of calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin K which are necessary for unison to feed your bones and keep them strong. I particularly like this recipe for vegans, as it calls on two types of immature beans which add substance and protein to their meal. Edamame contains all nine essential amino acids that the body requires but cannot make itself, making it a complete protein. Just make sure that you are choosing a high-quality organic product so that they are also quality protein.
To begin, trim your green bean ends with scissors if necessary to remove the stem. You may choose to leave the beans longer or cut them in half. I chose to use french beans, which are generally more tender and more flavorful simply because they are harvested earlier, however you may choose what is available to you. Immature or young pods of the runner bean, yardlong bean, and hyacinth bean can be used in a similar way. I am using frozen, shelled edamame beans as they are not readily available to me raw, however, if you have them locally, shuck and rinse them so that they are free of debris and ready to cook.
Like most beans, raw green beans contain lectins, proteins that work as an antifungal and natural insecticide for plants. Edamame also contains them, as well as phytates. The great news is most of these mineral hogging, gut bothering proteins are disabled once the beans are cooked. In fact, research shows that cooking green beans may increase antioxidant content, so it’s a double win.
Simply fill the bottom saucepan of a steamer set half full with water then set it over high heat to bring to a boil. Once you see it is at a rolling boil, add the edamame beans and green beans in an even layer to the steamer pot, cover with the lid and set over the boiling water to steam for five minutes until tender crisp. You want them to be bright green and still crunchy, not wilted, so remove immediately from the heat and rise with cold water to stop them cooking.
While your beans are steaming you can prepare the herbs for the salad. This nice variety of sharp, bright flavors and green hues is the perfect way to welcome in spring. Taking each mint and parsley stalk in hand at the top, use your other hand to pull backwards towards the end of the stem. This allows you to quickly separate the tough, starchy stems from the tasty leaves. Once the leaves are free, roll them together with the chives into a snake and use a sharp Chef’s knife to chop the leaves quite finely, allowing their essential oils to come out.
Next prepare your cucumbers. These serve to add crunch and a subtle sweetness plus a contrasting shape and color for texture satisfaction. If you ever feel your salad is boring, find a way to make it more beautiful! Use your Chef’s knife to cut the cucumber in half lengthwise first, then remove the tips. Using a thin-edged teaspoon, remove the seeds by pulling the spoon from one end to the other on the inside of each half. Then divide in half again so you have four long quarters before slicing them into bite-sized, half moon-shaped pieces.
The dressing is very simple. The herbaceous, floral citrus notes of lemon are grounded in the grassy, fruity and buttery taste of the oil and both are accentuated with a touch of salt and pepper. There’s no need to complicate perfection. The key here is to choose a high quality extra virgin olive oil for all your fresh dressings. Choose a dark colored glass bottle which has been stored in a box. When you taste the oil on it’s own it should have a bitterness, pepperiness, and a pungent taste. This bit of bite indicates it has a higher level of polyphenols, meaning it is better for you.
Roll your lemon back and forth under your palms on a clean cutting board. This will release the juices and oils from the flesh of the fruit. Once softened, use your Chef’s knife to cut the lemon in half, then over a small bowl, cup one clean palm with your fingers slightly parted and hold the lemon half in the other, facing down. Squeeze the lemon, allowing the juice to flow through your fingers while they catch the seeds and pulp. Repeat with the second half. Add the salt and pepper, then using a fork or small whisk, slowly pour in the oil so that it will emulsify into the lemon juice.
Finally in a large, gorgeous salad bowl arrange the green beans, edamame, cucumbers, and herbs, then drizzle the dressing over top before tossing to combine. Finish with your homemade Ricotta, sprinkling evenly over the salad. Serve the salad at room temperature. If there happens to be leftovers they will keep for a day or so in the fridge before the lemon’s acidity compromises the texture and flavor.