Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mexican Green Bean Salad

This concoction isn't nearly as bad as it sounds. In fact, I have to say it packs a flavorful punch for a dish that wouldn't be out of place in a vegetarian version of a Betty Crocker cookbook. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself - let's rewind for a second. We have taco night at the Commissary about once a month. Our house tacos usually consist of seasoned ground turkey meat (or leftover roast chicken pieces if I'm feeling saucy) and the usual Middle America toppings of shredded cheese, lettuce/tomato, sour cream, and taco sauce (mild, of course), all plopped in the center of a warm flour tortilla. The progeny typically take their tacos deconstructed; that is, with the cheese and tortilla in separate piles (and mostly dismiss those other ingredients as beneath their sensibilities). Anyway, I digress. I'm constantly seeking adequate vegetable side dishes to go with the tacos - oven-roasted green onions or bulb onions (cebollitas) seem to work pretty well and there's always the ever-present bag of frozen broccoli/cauliflower, but I wanted something different for a change this latest iteration.

I thought back to when Mrs. Hackknife and I dined at Big Star last year and I remembered really liking the braised long beans that were included as part of my ejote taco, so why not come up with a similar bean recipe that has a Latino flair? A quick Internet search using the most generic terms possible ("Mexican" and "green beans") turned up this Mexican green bean salad recipe from the Simply Recipe website, which credits it as a variation on Diana Kennedy's cactus salad from The Art of Mexican Cooking. The recipe is really easy and works well with generic, store-bought fresh green beans. I omitted the pickled jalapenos and used more of a queso fresco instead of the cotijo cheese. The red onion and cilantro give the dish a nice bite, with the avocado and cheese adding richness and the lime juice providing acid to cleanse the palate. If you're careful to slightly undercook the beans (about 5 minutes in boiling water, then spray with cold water after draining), they'll be just a little crunchy in the finished salad.

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