Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Asian Three-Bean Salad

Yesterday's irresistible teriyaki chicken thighs deserved a worthy side. Rice seemed like a no-brainer, but we eat so much rice and chicken that I could hardly stomach the thought of creating yet another chicken and rice dinner. Plus the flavorful chicken begged for something light and healthy and not too strongly flavored itself. A salad seemed like a logical choice but I knew Dane wouldn't go for plain greens, especially when the only dressing he really likes is thousand island (talk about a terrible combo with teriyaki... yuck). Then I came across this quick and easy three-bean "salad" recipe, and I knew we had a winner!

Now, the dressing I used for this salad is not what the original recipe called for... at all. The original recipe had a lot of canola oil, a little rice vinegar, and some apricot preserves - which sounds good and all, but I'm glad I tasted it before I poured it all over the beans, because it was way, way bland. All I could taste was the canola oil, and who wants that? I knew Dane certainly wouldn't eat it, and I was going to be lucky to get him to eat a side consisting of veggies and beans in the first place (as I'm sure you're figuring out, Dane is kind of a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy). So, since we both love the teriyaki sauce so much I thought, "why not use it for the dressing?" I made the exact same sauce I'd used to marinate the chicken (not the actual sauce I marinated the chicken in, don't worry) and added a little toasted sesame oil for an extra-special touch, and voila! A star was born.

My first thought upon digging into this plate of healthy goodness was that it would be perfect for a summer barbeque. It's best served at room temperature, in my opinion, but you could just as easily eat it chilled, and there's little worry about spoilage at warm temps since it doesn't contain any mayonnaise or eggs. Plus it has all of the lovely crunch of a good green salad without boring you to death or requiring gratuitous amounts of ranch dressing! Dane didn't care much for the black beans (go figure), so I think I'll keep playing around with it and maybe sub in some sugar snap peas next time in their place. Garbanzo beans could be a nice substitution too, since they tend to retain some crunch unlike the mushy black beans. The possibilities are endless! Try it yourself, and I guarantee you'll be hooked.

Asian Three-Bean Salad
adapted from The Food You Crave

1 pound fresh or frozen green beans
10 ounces shelled edamame
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press or minced
1/8 teaspoon dried ginger
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
one 15-ounce can black beans (preferably low-sodium), drained and rinsed
2 scallions (white and green parts) thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Steam green beans and edamame, or microwave, lightly covered with plastic wrap, in a bowl with 4 tablespoons of water for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Drain well.
2. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, brown sugar, sherry, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes, and stir until sugar is dissolved.
3. Add the black beans and scallions to the green beans and edamame, drizzle with the dressing, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature or chilled. This salad with keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about 3 days.

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