Thursday, January 31, 2013

Green Bean, Tomato and Feta Salad


There's something about fresh mint and sweet tomatoes that makes my taste buds tingle with glee, but this taste sensation is one that is not easily found here in Australia.

In recent years the quality and flavour of store-bought tomatoes in this country has been declining. They're usually dry, bland and tasteless – genetically modified to look good, but tasting like cardboard.

Tomatoes in Greece are wonderfully sweet and juicy, like the fruit they are meant to be, and it was with family on the Greek island of Limnos that I first learned of the tantalising tomato and mint combination.


Unfortunately, without enough room or sun in my back garden to grow my own tomatoes, my search for the perfect tomato in Australia is limited to hunting the stores. The closest I have come to finding sweet, fruity tomatoes are packets of Mini Romas and Grape Tomatoes. (I think that's often the way with vegetables – the smaller they are, the sweeter they are.) I chose Mini Romas for this salad recipe, but you could use any variety of sweet tomato.


Thankfully the quality of green beans in Australia isn't too bad and combined with sweet tomatoes and feta they make a lovely refreshing, crunchy summer salad to accompany a generous serve of Spanakopita (spinach and cheese pie) or vegetarian moussaka. And the contrasting colours look great too!


Green Bean, Tomato and Feta Salad


Serves 4–6

Note: You can present this either as a "two-tone" salad where the tomatoes are kept separate from the beans (as pictured above), or you can just toss everything together.

Ingredients

  • 400g Mini Roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 400g green beans, stems trimmed
  • 100g smooth feta cheese, roughly crumbled
  • 1/3 cup almond slivers
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • Cracked pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add beans, cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. While the beans are cooking, prepare a large bowl of ice-cold water (just empty as many ice cubes as you can spare into the bowl of water).
  3. Drain and rinse the beans under cold running water for 20 seconds then immediately transfer to the bowl of iced water and leave for 5 minutes. This will ensure the beans remain bright green and crunchy.
  4. Meanwhile, dry fry the almond slivers in a non-stick frying pan with no oil until slightly browned, tossing fairly constantly. It takes around 3 or 4 minutes, but be careful because once they start to brown they burn quickly. Remove from the heat and empty onto a plate to allow to cool.
  5. Drain the beans again and pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
For a two-tone salad
  1. Place the mini roma halves in a medium bowl. Whisk oil and lemon juice together in a separate bowl and pour half of this mixture over the tomatoes. Add mint and mix well.
  2. Go back to the remaining oil and lemon juice mixture and add onions and parsley. When almonds have cooled, add to the salsa and mix well.
  3. Arrange the beans on one half of an oval or round plate, and the mini romas on the other half.
  4. Spoon the onion salsa over the beans, and sprinkle the feta over the tomatoes. Season with plenty of cracked pepper.
For an all-in-one version
  1. Just toss the whole lot together!


One day Tony and I hope to have enough room and sunshine to grow our own vegetables. Do you grow your own tomatoes? I would love to know if your home-grown tomatoes are irresistibly sweet and luscious like those found in Greece.

16 comments:

  1. Hi Lisa,
    I'm definitely going to try your recipe. It looks delicious! Well, except for the mint. I'm just not a big fan of mint so I'll have to leave that out.

    Your photos are gorgeous and your blog is beautiful!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Rossan!

      I'm sure the salad will taste just as delicious without the mint. The feta, almonds and onion are strong flavours also - they complement the beans and tomatoes very well :)

      Thanks for dropping by - hope to see you again!

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  2. Replies
    1. Hi cquek! It is VERY yum-mo! I just finished the last of it this morning (yes it makes a very refreshing breakfast treat!)

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  3. Your photos are so good--the colours are fresh and bright. Just like a salad should be! Thanks for another lovely post! Jackie

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome Jackie! Even on a dull day bright colours like this can bring those summery feelings to the taste buds!

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  4. Replies
    1. Thank you Ephee! It's an easy salad with lots of punchy flavours!

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  5. What a beautiful, light salad! We have the same kinds of tomatoes at the supermarkets here--bland, pale, and mealy. Yuck! But luckily, heirloom tomatoes are becoming more and more popular these past few years. They're abundant at the farmers market and in the summer months, even the large chain grocery stores carry them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, heirloom tomatoes are starting to show up at the supermarkets here as well but sell out very quickly (for obvious reasons!). I live in an inner city suburb of Melbourne so there aren't any local farmer's markets here. I'm making a trip to the hills next week though so looking forward to bringing back a big batch of produce!

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  6. Hi Lisa, I made this salad last night for some friends. It looked so good - the colours and flavours are brilliant. I will definitely add this recipe to my repertoire. PS I am still making the greek yoghurt, the weather has been perfect for it lately!

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    Replies
    1. Great to hear that Heather! This salad is such a winner - I make it often. Actually, my last batch of yoghurt is about to run out and now with the sudden turnaround in Melbourne's weather I might have to go with the oven technique for the next lot!

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  7. Have to say that I am loving your blog! My partner and I love to cook (and eat!)but while trying out new complicated and elaborate dishes, we sometimes forget to keep things simple and classic. Love the simplicity of this recipe! Ideas are forming! Thanks for the inspiration and the fantastic blog. Beautiful photos, too! :) x

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Adrian and welcome! You're right. Sometimes the simplest combination of ingredients can produce the most refreshing results. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog and hope to see you here again soon!

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  8. Lovely recipes - I have been looking for a good recipe for Fasolakia but I can see I'm going to have to try the baked ricotta too.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Susan! I'm glad you found my blog and hope you had a chance to try the Fasolakia with baked ricotta. This green bean salad is pretty special too :)

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