Saturday, March 2, 2013

Green Bean & Avocado Salad with Poppyseed Lime Vinaigrette (and how to roast bell peppers)

There's a take-away restaurant around the corner from us that has the most tantalizing spread of hearty salads, marinated and roasted chickens, and freshly-prepared meals. It's difficult to resist going there on a busy weeknight or lazy weekend to grab a pre-made meal. Our favorite salad they serve-- green beans and avocados with a tangy poppyseed dressing-- comes with tomatoes, which we have to remove due to allergies. There are probably other hidden ingredients (like preservatives) lurking in their dressings that we should be more attentive to, even in what looks like a fresh, homestyle meal. Preservatives in this country crop up in everything, so unless we've made it ourselves it's likely that it will contain something we shouldn't be eating due to allergies.
healthy and delicious green bean avocado salad with poppyseed lime vinaigrette @ SouthernSpoon blog
crisp green beans, creamy avocado and tangy poppyseed lime dressing
On Friday I experimented making a copycat recipe of that favorite salad of ours, and quickly nailed the dressing with a bit of tweaking. This recipe is a game-changer: it's amazing how such simple ingredients can be so perfect together. Instead of tomatoes, I threw in some roasted red bell peppers for a little color. The resulting salad tasted even better than the restaurant version, and it was a delicious side dish with our roasted chicken.
incredible, easy-to-make green bean avocado salad
A good extra virgin olive oil is key to making a flavorful vinaigrette, and feel free to adjust the acidity by adding more or less lime juice or apple cider vinegar.  Toasted, slivered or chopped almonds would be a great addition, as would any fresh herbs you have on hand like basil or parsley. For dinner or lunch, picnic or potluck, this is an incredibly easy, tasty, and different salad to have in your repertoire. Hope you love it as much as we do.

Green Bean & Avocado Salad with Poppyseed Lime Vinaigrette
serves 4


2 cups green beans, washed, ends removed
1 avocado
1/4 cup coursely chopped roasted red bell peppers (capsicum) (see roasting tip below)
2 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced

Poppyseed Lime Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lime
1-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (to taste)
1 teaspoon poppyseeds
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
pinch of freshly ground sea salt
pinch of dried chili flakes (optional)

Steam the green beans for just 3-4 minutes so that they are still on the crisp side of crisp-tender. Immediately remove beans from the pot and quickly run under cold water, then place the beans in a bowl of cold water.

Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl. Start with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and add up to a teaspoon more to adjust the acidity to your liking. If you prefer a slightly spicy dressing, add the pinch of dried chili flakes.

Drain the cooled green beans and place the beans in a large salad bowl.  Add the chopped roasted red bell peppers and green onions.  Pour half of the vinaigrette over the salad and stir to combine. Slice the avocado into long slices that are about 1/4 inch thick, and add the avocado slices to the salad bowl. Pour the remaining vinaigrette over the salad and combine very gently so as not to break up the avocado slices. Serve immediately, or chill for up to 12 hours.

* Roasting bell peppers:

Wash and de-seed a bell pepper (capsicum).  Slice it in half, and place the two halves on a baking tray or cookie sheet with the skin side up.  Place the baking tray approximately 4 inches from the heat source in an oven set to broil (grill) on high. Broil (grill) the peppers, with the oven door propped open a couple of inches, for 4-6 minutes, until the peppers soften and the skin begins to bubble and blacken.

Immediately remove from the oven and place the peppers in a sealed plastic bag. Allow the peppers to cool for at least 5 minutes.

Remove peppers from the bag and peel off the skin of the peppers using your fingers (this should not be too difficult to do after the peppers have cooled in the plastic bag). Discard the skin, and set aside peppers for desired use.  (In the recipe above, I used one half of a roasted bell pepper, coursely chopped, to make about 1/4 cup).

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