Tomato, Grilled Beet and Green Bean Salad with Toasted Pumpkinseed Dressing
One of my new favorite books is Ruhlman’s Twenty by Michael
Ruhlman in which he eloquently describes how important it is to salt the
water for proper blanching of vegetables. Adding ¾ of a cup of salt to 3
quarts of water may sound overly salty, but I promise you’ll appreciate
the bright color and crispness of your blanched and shocked vegetables.
Think of the water tasting like sea water, and you’ll get the idea
1 bunch (about 1 pound) baby beets, green leaves and stems removed
½ pound green beans, tops trimmed
1 large tomato, cored, sliced into ¼” wedges
3 tablespoons hulled, untoasted pumpkinseeds
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for grilling
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Fresh hot green chile to taste (I like 1 large serrano or 1 small jalapeno), stemmed (optional)
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
Leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh mint, thinly sliced
Turn on a gas grill to medium or light a charcoal grill and let the coals burn until medium-hot and covered with white ash. In a large (4-quart) saucepan, bring 3 quarts of heavily salted water (I like about ¾ of a cup of kosher salt with this amount of water) to a rolling boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice, add water and set aside.
Cook the green beans in the boiling water first—removing them to the ice bath with a slotted spoon when they are bright green and still “al dente,” 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of the beans.
After your water returns to a full boil, add your beets to the pot. Cook until softened through— 6 to 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the beets to the ice bath. Allow vegetables to cool completely in ice bath. Remove the beans to a plate lined with paper towels. Peel and cut the beets into 1/8” wedges.
Toss the green beans and beets in a small amount of oil; grill until splotchy black in places—about 4 to 5 minutes for the green beans, and 8 to 10 minutes for the beets. Remove and season with salt.
Pour the pumpkinseeds into a small skillet and set over medium heat. When the first one pops, stir constantly until all have popped from flat to round, about 5 minutes. Scoop into a blender jar and add the lime juice.
Return the skillet to medium heat and measure in the oil. Add the garlic and optional chile. Cook, stirring regularly, until the garlic is soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Scrape the oil, garlic and chile into the blender. Add the honey and salt. Process until smooth. Taste and season with more salt if you think necessary. (Remember: it should be highly seasoned)
Combine the beets, green beans and tomatoes in a large mixing bowl—toss with a liberal amount of the dressing. Mound in a serving bowl. Drizzle with additional dressing if desired. Sprinkle with blue cheese and mint. Serve immediately.