Late Summer Green Bean Salad with Feta, Cranberries, and Walnuts

As we enter the last hurrah of summer around here, a bumper crop of lovely green beans are making their showy appearance at our local farmers market. Sure there are the standard beans, glorious in their plump greenness, but there are also the more unusual varieties arriving onto the scene. The deep purple, almost midnight black numbers. Broad beans that are flecked with a red that mysteriously disappears once cooked. The fashionably thin French selections. All delightful and unique in their own way.

Mix any combination of these beauties with brain boosting walnuts along with the tang of feta and the sweetness of dried cranberries and you have the beginning of an enchanting late summer side salad. For our vegan friends, skip the feta. An inspired raw version can be created by shredding the uncooked beans, switching out lemon juice for the balsamic and Dijon, omitting the cheese and leaving the walnuts in all their raw glory. 

As we race headlong into fall, may these last days of summer be filled with the light-hearted exuberance of pleasurable gatherings with family and friends. And may you all enjoy healthful, delicious, and wonderfully fresh fare. Bon app├ętit.

* As always, fresh, local, and organic ingredients are best for flavor, nutrition, and health.

Yield: 4 servings

    1 pound mixed, seasonal green beans
    ⅛ cup balsamic vinegar
    ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
    1 pinch Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
    ¼ cup dried cranberries
    ¾ cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted
    1 medium shallot , finely chopped

    Fill a medium sized mixing bowl half with ice cubes and half with cool water and set aside.

    Trim stem-end of the beans while leaving the tail intact. Place trimmed beans in large sized pot with steamer basket and 2 inches of water plus 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bring to a boil and steam until tender yet still bright green, about four minutes. Remove beans from pot and immediately place in ice water bath and wait one minute before straining into a colander. Once beans are properly cooled and strained of water, place onto serving platter. Set aside while preparing vinaigrette.

    In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, and black pepper. Drizzle vinaigrette over beans and sprinkle with feta, cranberries, walnuts, and shallots. Serve immediately with love.

    "Gastronomy has been the joy of all peoples through the ages. 
    It produces beauty and wit and goes hand in hand 
    with goodness of heart and consideration of others." 

    -Charles Pierre Monselet (1825-88) 
    French journalist and author

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