Seared Summer Salad with Pecorino Vinaigrette

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As I anxiously await my favorite food season of the year (fall!!), I’m trying to take advantage of the last of the summer produce before it disappears. Yesterday’s trip to the farmer’s market gave us so many beautiful and delicious vegetables, the recipe basically wrote itself.

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Sautéed Summer Salad with Pecorino Vinaigrette

Yields 4 portions

Ingredients: 

  • 3 large tomatoes (heirloom, if possible)
  • ½ lb. haricots vert (French green beans), ends trimmed
  • 1 large romaine heart, cut in half (from top to bottom) and washed thoroughly
  • 3 tbsp. shaved pecorino romano cheese (or your favorite hard cheese)
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar, plus 2 tbsp.
  • ¾ cup avocado oil (or olive oil), plus 2 tbsp.
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • ¼ sprig rosemary, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • toasted bread (optional)

Remove the core from the tomatoes, and cut into large chunks. Place the cut tomatoes in a small bowl with 4 cups of water and 5 tsp. salt. This brining solution helps to evenly season the tomatoes without breaking the cell walls of the tomato which would typically leave you with a mushy mess. Set the bowl aside until plating (30 minutes).

IMG_3383To prepare the vinaigrette by hand, place the pecorino, dijon mustard, rosemary, garlic, and sherry vinegar in a bowl. In a slow and steady stream, pour the avocado oil into the bowl while vigorously whisking. Make sure the oil is poured in very slowly; otherwise, the vinaigrette won’t emulsify. (It would still be a tasty vinaigrette, but it wouldn’t have its desired creamy texture.) Season with pepper to taste. The pecorino provides salt for the vinaigrette, but feel free to add more cheese or salt if you’d like.

To finish the dish, place a large skillet on medium heat with 2 tbsp. oil. Add the cleaned haricots vert to the pan and season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until skin starts to brown slightly. (Note: I personally prefer haricots vert, also known as French green beans, over standard green beans because French green beans have a softer skin, are less fibrous, and cook quickly without losing their crunch. You are welcome to use any kind of green bean for this recipe, but make sure to alter your cook time according to the bean used.)

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Check out these purple French beans! Unfortunately, they don’t retain their purple color once heat is applied, but they were a fun find at the market!

IMG_3385Turn the heat down to medium-low and move the green beans to one side of the skillet. Add the romaine halves, cut side down, to the pan and sear for 1 minute. Flip romaine hearts over, season them with salt and pepper, and sprinkle the 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar over entire pan, stirring to combine. (Don’t worry if the beans mix with the romaine). Remove from heat and take romaine hearts out and place on cutting board. Cut romaine into large chunks.

Drain tomatoes from brine and place in large mixing bowl. Add seared romaine pieces, sautéed haricots vert,  and ¼ cup of vinaigrette (reserve extra vinaigrette for later use) to bowl and gently toss. Finish with a final dusting of shaved pecorino. And if you’d like, serve the salad with a piece of toast to soak up the delicious juices at the end. A refreshing side dish for a summer afternoon! You can also top this salad with seared fish, grilled steak, or roasted chicken for a more filling entree.

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