A silver-lining salad

Posted by Anita on 06.21.09 8:31 PM

(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*A few weeks ago, we headed down to Los Angeles for a quick getaway. Ostensibly, the occasion was our seventh(!) wedding anniversary, but truthfully the real purpose of our trip was to eat at all the places we’d been adding to our ever-expanding “must-try” list.

At the very top of said list was Pizzeria Mozza, the newish joint venture from Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton. After hearing rave reviews from pretty much every newspaper, magazine, blog, and friend, we decided to schedule Mozza in a prime Friday-night slot, to make sure we were getting the A-team of cooks and servers.

I won’t bore you with the litany of every thing that went wrong that night — we’re over the tedious exercise of writing negative restaurant reviews — but here’s the short version: Unexciting food, abysmal service, and pacing so unbelievably rushed that we were back in our car just 29 minutes after our first (and only) glass of wine hit the table. Seriously.

But every cloud has a silver lining. And at Mozza, that lining took the form of a fabulous melange of slender haricots verts, sweet shallots, crunchy hazelnuts, and creamy whole-grain mustard dressing (which, ahem, arrived in place of the roasted-cauliflower dish we’d actually ordered). Amid a menu of fair-to-decent dishes, this small plate stood out, and we quickly realized that we could easily duplicate it at home. We combed through every Batali and Silverton cookbook we own, but found nothing similar. However, Googling “beans + mustard + vinegar + hazelnuts” led us to a likely recipe — not from either of the Mozza chefs, but from Chef Dan Barber of New York’s Blue Hill restaurants.

Although we’re still a few weeks away from finding slim haricots at our market, their larger cousins are already becoming plentiful. And though hazelnuts aren’t grown in the Bay Area, we have plenty of other local options. We opted for walnuts, but made them a little more decadent by rubbing off their skins after toasting them lightly in a pan. After that, the rest of the dish comes together in a matter of a whisk here, a blanch there. And when served with a quick-brined pork chop and the first new potatoes of the year — as we did, for our One Local Summer meal this week — it makes for a great summer side-dish.

(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*

Summer Beans in Grainy Mustard Vinaigrette
– adapted from Dan Barber

1 T finely chopped shallots
2 T balsamic vinegar
12 oz trimmed green and yellow-wax beans (about 4 cups)
1/2 T whole grain mustard
1/4 cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 T chopped chives
1 T plus 1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 T blanched nuts (we used walnuts) toasted, peeled if desired, and coarsely chopped

Soak shallots in balsamic vinegar in a small bowl for 30 minutes; set aside for later use.

Fill a saucepan with 2 quarts of water and 1T salt; bring to a boil. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with water and ice.

When water comes to a boil, add beans and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain quickly and shock beans in the ice-water bowl. When fully chilled, drain beans well, pat dry, and set aside.

Stir mustard into balsamic-soaked shallots. Gradually whisk in olive oil until blended. (If you’d like a creamier dressing, buzz with a stick blender until well emulsified.) Add the chives, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper; stir until combined.

Toss dressing with beans and nuts until evenly coated; serve immediately.

Farmers and food artisans who created the ingredients for this week’s meal:One Local Summer 2009
Marin Sun Farms, Point Reyes: Pork chop
Fox Barrel, Fairfax: Hard cider (for brine)
Eatwell Farm, Dixon: New potatoes
Dirty Girl Produce, Santa Cruz: Shallots
, Sacramento: Olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Dwelley Farms, Brentwood: Green and wax beans
Boccalone, Oakland: Whole-grain mustard
Glashoff, Fairfield: Walnuts
…and our own homegrown chives and homemade chicken stock

locavore, One Local Summer, recipes, restaurants, SoCal



Comment by Mangochild

I wish we had a local source of nuts! But yum on the bean dish, the yellow and green combo is very pretty :-)

Posted on 06.22.09 at 1:55AM

Comment by maybelles mom

Oh, I am sorry to hear about Mozza. But, at least you will always have this salad.

Posted on 06.22.09 at 7:44AM

Comment by Laura

Bummer about Mozza – it was on my list as well. But excellent on the bean recipe – we’ll be drowning soon enough so this is a good addition to our arsenal of recipes for them.

No Flickr access at work – were the potatoes from your bin?

Posted on 06.22.09 at 8:30AM

Comment by Kalyn

Love the sound of the salad. (And I agree,negative restaurant reviews are not very interesting, except maybe to people who might have gone there.)

Posted on 06.22.09 at 8:52AM

Comment by Lauren

That’s too bad about Pizzeria Mozza. We ate next door at Osteria Mozza a while back and it was fabulous! Even my extremely picky brother was happy. I’ll remember to stick to the Osteria……

Posted on 06.22.09 at 10:34AM

Comment by Nana Sadie Rose

This sounds wonderful – I will try as soon as the beans come in with the CSA share!
Thank you!

Posted on 06.23.09 at 12:25PM

Comment by Jane

I have been wanting a green bean salad recipe. Also, I’ve seen haricot verts for a few weeks at the San Rafael Sunday market.

Posted on 06.24.09 at 1:38PM

Comment by codfish

Jim and I like to look at every milestone as an excuse to eat, too. (Very possibly the secret to good relationships!) Too bad it wasn’t what you had hoped—but I’m very grateful for the recipe. :)

Posted on 06.26.09 at 10:14AM

Comment by Sarah Caron

That is certainly a beautiful dish. I love the sounds of the combination and totally cannot wait for beans to make their way into my farmers market.

Sorry to hear about the otherwise bad experience though — that always stinks.

Posted on 06.26.09 at 6:10PM

Comment by Mary Coleman

Wow. 29 minutes.
Love the recipe. Beans are just getting started in Middle Tennessee, I can’t wait to try this with pecans.

Posted on 06.28.09 at 7:16AM

Comment by Diane

Ick on the restaurant…Berkeley Bowl has haricots now – but I am sure they are not local.

Posted on 07.03.09 at 7:28PM

Comment by barbara

When I first read this I thought the dish was made with dried oval beans. After reading the recipe I see it is made with fresh (what we call string)beans. Sounds delicious.

Posted on 08.05.09 at 6:32PM

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