By Stacey Amagrande
2 lb. Fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed cut into ½ inch pieces and blanched
1 cup cooked whole wheat couscous, substitute cooked barley, brown rice or quinoa for variations
½ cup raw unsalted walnuts or pecans, chopped and toasted
Seeds of one pomegranate
½ small red onion, diced small
1 cup baby greens, washed dried off and thinly chopped
Juice and zest of one orange
2 tablespoons fresh Thyme, leaves removed from stems
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
½ jar 7th Heavens Gourmet Nectarine Ginger Vinaigrette (optional but very delicious)
underlined items found at the High Desert Farmer’s Market
To prepare green beans: Rinse; and trim ends. Discard any soft ,wrinkled or light colored beans. Bring 6 cups of water to a hard boil; While waiting for water is coming; fill bowl (large enough for green beans) half with water and ice, set aside; add a good amount of salt to boiling water then add the green beans; Cook for 6 minutes, or until tender; drain and immediately immerse into the ice bath. This shocks the greens beans, stops the cooking process and will make the beans retain their vibrant green color. Use this method for blanching just about any vegetable.
Pomegranate: start by filling a bowl ¾ the way full. Cut off the top stem of the fruit, and score the fruit into quarters, don’t cut all the way through. Submerge the fruit into the bowl of water, and pull it open like a flower. Use your thumbs to push the seeds out of their little crannies separating from the white bitter membrane or “pith” as you go. The Pith will float and the seeds will drop to the bottom of the bowl. Believe me, you do not want to eat the bitter white membrane, so take your time making sure you only have the seeds going into your salad. Throw all of the pith and shell of the fruit away or into your compost. Drain the seeds out into a sieve, and just pick through them again, discarding any white or mushy looking seeds. The pomegranate seeds should be vibrant and ruby colored, hence the name of this salad!
Nuts: heat a small skillet onto medium high, and toast the nuts until they get some golden color and release a delicious aroma. Stir them often, you do not want them to burn; This only take a couple of minutes, so don’t walk away or you may have to begin again. Once the nuts are lightly toasted, put them on a cutting board to cool before chopping.
Dressing: combine the orange zest, juice and Thyme into a small bowl with some salt and pepper. Whisk in the evoo and, if using, the Nectarine Ginger Vinaigrette. The salad is delicious without, but the dressing adds something very special. Now to assemble! Put the cooked couscous into a large salad bowl, add the green beans, nuts, pomegranate seeds, red onion and lettuce; Toss for joy! Pour in the dressing and toss again, thoroughly. Taste! You may need to add a little more salt, or a little more Vinaigrette to get the pop of flavor you want from this exquisite salad. This yummy masterpiece will keep for days in the fridge, but it may not last that long! Bon Apetito friends!