6.12.2006

Lunchbox: Basil Green Bean Salad

My cilantro plant has actually grown two leaves, which has inspired me. I made a trip to the farmer’s market to buy a larger pot in which to replant the tomatillo vines, which have not had the decency to grow anything, and this good-intentioned move will either encourage them to get on with it or it will kill them off. I purchased another pot with the thought of starting basil from seed as well, but changed my mind when I came across a leafy sweet basil plant. It, along with a not quite as hardy looking Thai basil plant which I’ve coveted for some time, now occupies a place of honor on my windowsill.
Let me say right now: I may never go back to dried herbs again, and I am in severe danger of running out of windowsill. It took great measures of self-control not to purchase a towering sage and a tiny-leaved lemon thyme plant as well . . . but there’s always next week. I have high hopes for the basils, mainly because I hear they’re rather impervious plants and therefore good for the gardening inept like myself.
For now, I intend to make the most of them while they cooperate with me. The Thai basil is going into chicken broth for making jasmine rice tonight, and the sweet basil is being chiffonaded and sprinkled over green bean salad. Basil pairs well with many things, but favorites among them are vegetables, chicken, and more basil in the form of pesto. (I did have some pesto leftover from Trader Joe’s so I haven’t made any fresh, but should the plant continue to flourish, I certainly will be letting you know.) The shredded leaves fresh in a salad make their presence known just a bit more assertively above the pesto, providing singing bursts of flavor when you spear them against a tender-crisp green bean or a ripe tomato. If you can, keep the tomatoes out of the refrigerator, or at least let them come to room temperature.

BASIL GREEN BEAN SALAD
2 14-oz. packages haricot verts, prepared according to package directions
1/2 Vidalia onion, soaked and rinsed as for Beans and Tuna Salad
about one lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
few tablespoons pesto
ricotta salata
red wine or your favorite vinegar
ten or so sweet basil leaves

While you're steaming the green beans and soaking the onion, smear each side of the chicken breasts with some pesto sauce and let it sit while you heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Let the chicken cook, turning and moving occasionally, until slightly brown on one side. Turn the chicken over and continue to cook until lightly brown on the other side as well. Cover the pan and let the chicken cook through. Remove to a plate until cool enough to touch.
Let the green beans and onion drain while the chicken cools, combine in a large bowl. Toss with vinegar and some shredded basil leaves. Dice the chicken and crumble the ricotta salata; add to the bowl and gently toss. Adjust the vinegar factor. Garnish with additional shredded basil over the top.
Yield: approximately 5 lunchtime servings
Time: 30-45 minutes.

1 Comments:

Blogger Sam said...

That salad looks DELICIOUS and just perfect for the summer! A must try for sure!

9:39 PM  

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