A late summer salad that makes a great side or a light meal, Wax Bean Salad in Bacon Vinaigrette is served warm, wafting with the intoxicating aroma of bacon.
Fresh beans are beginning to flood the local markets. Green beans, wax beans, long thin Asian beans; all fresh and flashy and waiting to be served. This salad has become one of my favorite late summer sides to take advantage of the garden’s bounty. Cherry tomatoes, garlic, shallots, and smokey bacon with a dash of sherry vinegar and fresh basil makes a combination that hits so many flavour notes in this Wax Bean Salad in Bacon Vinaigrette.
What’s Your Vinegar?
If your larder doesn’t stock sherry vinegar, don’t fret. Just swap it out for red wine vinegar for a similar taste. I have something of a vinegar ‘problem’… with no less than ten vinegars in stock at any given time. I love how just shifting your vinegar can take the simplest of sauces, a basic vinaigrette and make it something truly special that sets a meal apart. I like sherry vinegar against salty bases, like this one. The marriage of the smokey bacon and the sweet, sherry vinegar sets off the sweetness of the tomato, it picks up the sugar in the shallot and makes the basil taste, somehow, more herbal.
One of my favorite applications to use up with cold leftover beans. Add a bit of bacon remaining from breakfast, a couple of fresh items from the garden and you have a stunningly satisfying lunch. Also a great make ahead salad, cook your beans and bacon, reserve your bacon fat and cook a la minuté for a fresh finish.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add prepped beans and cook until tender, about five minutes before draining. Then place in ice water for about three minutes, until cool. Drain again and reserve to dry.
While your beans cook, prep and crisp your bacon. Cut bacon across the rasher into half inch strips and separate. Heat large sauce pan over medium-high heat, add your bacon and, as it starts to sizzle, add water. This will help the bacon to render faster and eliminate the need for any other fats. Cook bacon until crisp, remove bacon from the pan and reserve until needed. No not discard bacon fat.
Return bacon pan to the stove, over medium-low heat to loosen the fat should it be slightly congealed. Toss in your garlic, cook for about a minute then add shallots and sweat until tender, about two minutes. Add sherry vinegar and stir, add tomatoes and toss in vinaigrette then add beans and bacon. Toss beans to coat and warm, taste to check seasoning and adjust, finally, add basil and give the salad one last toss before plating.
Serve warm, drizzled with a touch of vinaigrette from the bottom of the pan and a grind of fresh pepper. Finish with additional fresh basil if desired.
Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer, recipe blogger and Food Business Consultant. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn, ten years in catering, and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.