Life has an amazing way of teaching lessons. We have had so many lessons in the last week. My husband has learned that you should never run with wet shoes on and that broken bones sometimes take a plate and 8 screws to fix. I have learned that it takes 6 minutes to get from our house to the nearest doctor and that we have an astounding amount of friends and family who will help us through the rough patches of life. My children have learned that sometimes you have to put aside your own wants and pitch in do the stuff that needs to be done (and it’s better to do it without complaint or Mommy’s face will actually melt off). These are all excellent lessons to learn. Expensive and painful, but excellent nonetheless.
The last lesson we learned, is that a garden waits for no man. No matter what sort of fresh, hot predicament you happen to be in the middle of, the 4 rows of green beans you planted are going to be ready to pick right in the middle of it. So, using all of the lessons we had learned, the kids and I picked, snapped and canned the half bushel of green beans from our garden while my husband nursed his injury with a cocktail of pain meds. It was in the middle of this green bean project that the realization hit me that our kids have reached the age where they are more of a help than a hindrance. They are focused enough to actually pick all of the green beans in a row, they are perfectly able to snap all of the beans and stuff them all in jars to go in the canner. They can follow all of my directions to the letter and they have finally become a huge help around the house. All of the littleness is gone and been replaced a new age of reliability.
Reliable or not, they are not quite grown-up enough to enjoy the refreshing vinegary bite of this summer salad. This is a perfect salad for a picnic and a great way to use the beans that won’t fit in the canner.
- 1 ½ pounds small new potatoes or red potatoes
- 1 pounds washed and trimmed fresh green beans
- 1 roasted red bell pepper chopped (jarred is fine)
- ¼ cup chopped Kalamata or green olives
- 1 small onion minced
- 1 Tablespoon course grain brown mustard
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of dried herb such as tarragon, basil or marjoram
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While you are waiting on the water, cut the potatoes into 2 inch pieces and cut the fresh green beans into 2 inch lengths. Add the potatoes to the water and cook until just tender, 10-15 minutes. Use a strainer to remove them to drain. Add the green beans to the water and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes and then remove with a strainer to drain. Rinse the beans and the potatoes with cold water to stop the cooking and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, sugar, oil and dried herbs until you have formed an emulsion. Stir in the salt and pepper and red pepper flakes and then taste the dressing to adjust the acidity. If it’s too vinegary add more oil. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, and olives then add the potatoes and green beans, along with the parsley to the bowl. Toss together with clean hands. Taste to adjust seasoning. This can be served immediately or it will hold in the fridge or up to 3 days.