Recipe of the Week: Haricot Vert & Fig Salad
There’s nothing like wine country during harvest (or crush): trucks of grapes line the roads and wineries bustle (and hustle) to get the job done. Amid the excitement and back-breaking work of crush are harvest lunches. Whether it’s to thank volunteers who come out to help at a smaller winery or a winery chef who cooks for the entire staff, the lunches are a chance to sit and get the lowdown on crush (and for the crew to take a much-needed break). My first harvest lunch was in 2006 during my two-week stint helping at Siduri Winery in Sonoma County, learning the ins and outs of Pinot Noir. Every day a different meal was brought in and we would chow down and chat and get back to work. I didn’t work crush this year but was invited to a harvest lunch at Jordan Winery in Healdsburg and couldn’t pass up a chance to chat with the winemaker and crew (and eat an amazing spread in their jaw-droppingly gorgeous tank room). We had great wine, great food, and great but hurried conversation before everyone went back to work—there were grapes coming in. What stayed with me was Jordan’s Executive Chef Todd Knoll luscious salad that celebrated the winery garden: greens, haricot vert, hazelnuts, and fresh figs.
This is my version of Chef Knoll’s creation; a simple, beautiful salad that celebrates the end of summer. Feel free to play around with these flavors; the bite of a good blue cheese would be lovely here, or add silky prosciutto slices or more intense pancetta bits on top for a bit of protein. If you really want to gild the lily you could sauté a few shallots and add them to the dressing. Or just go bare bones. Either way, be sure to use the freshest beans and an excellent olive oil.
Haricot Vert & Fig Salad
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 fresh figs, cut in half
¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook about 5 minutes, or until fork-tender. Meanwhile, make the dressing: combine the vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Drain the beans and transfer them to a serving bowl. Toss them with the dressing and gently toss in the figs and walnuts. Add a cracking of fresh pepper and serve. (Serve immediately and don’t try to make it ahead; it’s best eaten within a few hours of preparing it.)
(Check out the original recipe from Chef Todd Knoll on Jordan Winery’s blog.)