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The Surprises of Summer

2010. Sconset, Nantucket. A favorite memory of Summer.

Ah Summer. We have such a love/hate relationship. Lately, we’ve been out of favor. I had been hoping to kiss this apartment good-bye and be in a new house by now relaxing on my new deck with the suburban breeze in my face. When you are ready to leave a place, you often start to hate every part about it – the small kitchen, the furniture, the lack of air conditioning – particularly in the dog days of summer.  You fail to appreciate what you used to love about a place. After a refreshing weekend with my family (and the endless kisses of a nephew who makes my heart skip a beat), I came home to a wonderful surprise – a new apartment. My husband had re-arranged the entire living room/office area, which could not have been easy considering the vast limitations of our space. It was like a breath of fresh air. Changed my whole world. And its nice to know I can still be surprised.

A boost in my mood always inspires me to cook. Following a weekend of pizza, hot dogs and burgers, I opted for light, fresh salads — the foods that should be on my plate a lot more in summer. Ryan bought a beautiful bunch of green beans at the farmer’s market so I am making my first fresh green bean salad ever along with a heartier white bean and artichoke salad with homemade croutons.

 Green Bean Salad  (Ellie Krieger/Food Network)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 2 teaspoons walnut oil or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of water with a steamer basket to a boil, add green beans and steam for about 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl. Toast the walnuts in a small dry skillet over medium heat until they become fragrant, about 2 minutes, and then transfer them to a small bowl to cool. Add the parsley and onion to the walnuts and stir to combine.

White Bean & Artichoke Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 12-oz. jar artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • Capers (enough to your liking – 1 to 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Homemade croutons (worth the small bit of effort!!)

Directions

Combine the beans, artichoke hearts and capers in a bowl. Add the oil, vinegar and parsley, and toss gently until everything is evenly coated. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Add homemade croutons before serving (do not add before refrigeration).

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