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Fresh Green Bean Salad With Basil And Tomatoes

Fresh Green Bean Salad With Basil And Tomatoes
T. Susan Chang for NPR /

Shirley Corriher, the wisecracking, infinitely knowledgeable kitchen wizard, blanches her green beans with sugar as well as salt. Because the dressing's sweet, I tend to omit the sugar in the blanching water. If you don't have a food processor to make the dressing, you can try using a blender. This makes quite a lot of dressing. Adapted from Cookwise by Shirley Corriher (Morrow 1997).

Makes 8 servings

1-1/2 pounds fresh green beans

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon salt (4 teaspoons total)

1 recipe garlic-basil dressing (below)

5 firm ripe tomatoes, sliced

4 sprigs fresh basil for garnish

Trim the stem ends of the green beans (you can leave the pointed tips). Halve the longer ones if you wish.

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. While the water's heating, fill a large bowl with ice water (using at least a dozen cubes of ice). Once the water boils, add the beans and cook briefly: 1 or 2 minutes for tiny haricots, 4 or 5 for bigger beans. Don't walk away. Drain the beans quickly. Then shock them by dumping them in the ice water, agitating them briefly until they are quite cool (about a minute). Then drain again and set aside. They can be refrigerated in a tightly sealed plastic bag for several hours with no loss of color or texture. If you do refrigerate, first dry them extra-thoroughly on a dish towel.

When ready to serve, toss the green beans with 1/3 cup of the dressing in a large mixing bowl. Taste and add more dressing or salt as needed. Pile the beans high in the center of a large white platter. Arrange the tomato slices overlapping around the edge. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt, and drizzle 3 tablespoons of the dressing on top of them. Garnish with the basil sprigs. Serve immediately.

Garlic-Basil Dressing

1 clove garlic

1 shallot

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 cup canola, corn or other vegetable oil

15 fresh basil leaves

Turn on the processor with the steel knife and drop the garlic and shallot down the feed tube onto the spinning blade to mince. Add the vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard and sugar. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Add the basil leaves and coarsely chop with several on/off pulses.

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