So many of my recipes come from throwing together what I have on hand, this salad being one of those recipes. When my daughter was a baby we lived on a vineyard in Anderson Valley, California. It was incredibly beautiful, but very isolated. Our closest neighbor was several miles away as was "town". My husband (at the time) would take our one car to work with him and I was home with the baby...all day! In a time before home computers and no TV (no reception) I was forced to be creative with my time. I took long walks in the vineyard, tended our large garden, re-read every book I had and cooked just about everything out of the Greens Cookbook. Our garden provided all the vegetables and herbs we could eat. There were raspberry bushes, a strawberry patch and pear and apple trees just across the road. I must have made a hundred cobblers, pies and crisps during that year and a half we lived on the vineyard. I also experimented with herbs, creating different pestos, sauces, rubs and dressings. The property provided us with wild boar, venison and turkey. It was quite an experience.
One day I had invited a neighbor over for lunch. She had two young children and we liked to hang out while the men-folk were working the fields (literally, her husband was a vineyard manager). I wanted to make a composed salad of some sort so I just went out to the garden and picked what looked ready that morning...a big pile of green beans, several ears of corn and a heap of cherry tomatoes. I dug up some fresh garlic, picked a nice bouquet of flowers and headed back to the house. I put the flowers in a jug and got to work on the salad. She was bringing a loaf of bread from the local bakery and a bottle of white wine....a perfect lunch on a warm summer day! We ate in the backyard under the shade of a very big, very old tree while the children did their thing. The salad was delicious, like a bite of sunshine, so bright and fresh. The presentation almost took my breath away (my inner quirky, hippie chick is emerging here). I truly amazed myself that day. A wonderful recipe was born! It was an afternoon I think back on often, an afternoon with a good friend, divine food and adorable children...oh, and the wine, can't forget the wine!
( I must stress that this salad only be made in the late summer when all of the vegies are ripe and fresh! )
1 lb. green beans
3 ears corn
1 basket cherry tomatoes, any color
20 (aprox.) oil cured or Kalamata olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
juice of 2 medium lemons (no bottled juice here!!)
2 cloves garlic, crushed (no jarred garlic, only fresh)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. sugar or honey
1/2 tsp. salt
ground black pepper
1. Cut kernels from corn and par boil quickly just so the corn is tender but still crunchy, about 2 minutes. Drain. Plunge into a bowl of ice water. Allow to sit in water for several minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Wash and stem beans leaving the tip. Parboil, as for the corn, until tender but crunchy. Drain, plunge in ice water, drain and set aside.
3. Make dressing. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, sugar or honey, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and whick until thickened.
4. Arrange the green beans with the tips pointing outwards around the perimeter of a large plate or platter. Mound corn in the middle. Circle the corn with the tomatoes. Sprinkle the feta and olives over the entire salad. Serve with dressing on the side. Simple perfection!