FARM FRESH: This is the third in a series of stories about local growers who provide Hall County with fresh produce and their own recipes.
Nicoise Salad Recipe
1/2 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespons minced fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 grilled or otherwise cooked tuna steaks
(8 ounces each) or 2-3 cans of tuna
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved or quartered
10 small new red potatoes (each about 2 inches in diameter, about 1 1/4 pounds total), each potato scrubbed and quartered
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium heads Boston lettuce or butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried and torn into bite-sized pieces
3 small ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
8 ounces green beans, stem ends trimmed and each bean halved crosswise
1/4 cup niçoise olives
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and/or several anchovies (optional)
Marinate tuna steaks in a little olive oil for an hour.
Heat a large skillet on medium high heat, or place on a hot grill. Cook the steaks 2 to 3 minutes on each side until cooked through.
Whisk lemon juice, oil, shallot, thyme, basil, oregano and mustard in medium bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Bring potatoes and 4 quarts cold water to boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cook until potatoes are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon (do not discard boiling water). Toss warm potatoes with 1/4 cup vinaigrette; set aside.
While potatoes are cooking, toss lettuce with 1/4 cup vinaigrette in large bowl until coated. Arrange bed of lettuce on a serving platter. Cut tuna into 1/2-inch thick slices, coat with vinaigrette. Mound tuna in center of lettuce.
Toss tomatoes, red onion, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste in bowl; arrange tomato-onion mixture on the lettuce bed. Arrange reserved potatoes in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.
Return water to boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and green beans. Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain beans, transfer to reserved ice water and let stand until just cool, about 30 seconds; dry beans well. Toss beans, 3 tablespoons vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste; arrange in a mound at edge of lettuce bed.
Arrange hard-boiled eggs, olives and anchovies (if using) in mounds on the lettuce bed. Drizzle eggs with remaining 2 tablespoons dressing, sprinkle entire salad with capers (if using), and serve immediately.
Tracey Wimpy pulled a handful of her freshly picked green beans from her basket and weighed them out for a customer Saturday morning at the Dahlonega Farmers Market.
Wimpy’s Cane Creek Produce booth at the market is a colorful cornucopia of vegetables she grows in her Lumpkin County garden.
Wimpy displays her onions, carrots, green tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in small baskets. She keeps a stocked shelf of vibrant jams and pickled produce next to a framed certificate indicating she’s certified to sell canned goods.
While the booth is pleasant to look at, her purple-hued green beans seem to stop people in their tracks.
“Most people think they’re like purple whole peas,” Wimpy said. “Then I’m like ‘No, they’re green beans and they’ll turn green when you cook them.’”
The beans, called Royal Burgundy, taste similar to the Roma green beans she’s selling in the nearby basket.
Sheenagh King, a registered dietitian and the bariatric program manager of The Longstreet Clinic Center for Bariatric Surgery, said green beans are a good, healthy choice especially for dieters.
Green beans are high in fiber and help to keep people feeling fuller longer because the fiber takes up space and takes longer to digest.
“Green beans are pretty much a non-starchy carb,” King said. “The green ones are going to help you lose some weight because they don’t have a lot of calories in them. Other than that they’re going to have lots of nutrients that people need today. Instead of eating a french fry, eat a green bean.”
Wimpy said she prepares both of the beans in the same way, boiled in chicken broth for seasoning.
With all the different varieties of green beans, there’s no shortage of ways to cook the southern staples.
Green beans work well as a side dish and can be boiled, sautéed, fried, steamed, baked and roasted. They can also be added to salads.
One tasty way to use fresh green beans and a few healthy produce items found at farmers markets is to make a nicoise (pronounced nee-shwaz) salad.
King said when it comes to preparing green beans it’s important not to overcook them and use fresh beans, preferably from local farmers markets. She recommends people sauté or steam the beans rather than boiling.
“A lot of times, you’re going to see people who open up a can of green beans and they just warm it up on the stove and they add butter or bacon,” King said. “When they can go down to the farmers market and purchase locally grown, fresh. ... There are studies that show locally grown produce has more nutritive value because it hasn’t set on the truck or a refrigerator. It’s closer to the ground when we purchase it and is therefore going to be a better product and better for us because the nutrients are there and the drag time is down.”