Chinese beans are perfect for cold salad

Kate Lawson
Simply the Best

I think I have probably purchased acres of green beans over the summer. When I spy the pretty green, slender beans mounded in quart baskets, I simply can't resist. I prepare them simply, without fuss, served with grilled chicken or fish; the only embellishment is maybe some toasted almonds or lemon zest sprinkled on top.

But around the end of August, I begin to become bored with fresh green beans. That's when the long beans show up. Most Asian farmers display them, their ends banded tightly while the long, curly beans are splayed along the table. With these, I like to make a cold salad, blanching the beans, then making a viniagrette of fish sauce and lime, and if I'm lucky enough to have some kaffir lime leaves in the freezer, these go into the mix. Occasionally, I will add crushed peanuts and cherry tomatoes to the salad, and it keeps well overnight.

Look for unsweetened coconut flakes. It is sold in bulk or packages in health food stores. Fish sauce can be found in the Asian food aisle of most supermarkets. Serve with some grilled fish such as halibut or salmon. This is one green bean dish guaranteed not to become boring.

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Long Bean Salad with Coconut

Look for fresh kaffir lime leaves in Asian groceries; they are also available dried. Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

½cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed, cut into 2-inch lengths (about 5 cups) or arugula

Kosher salt

¾ pound Chinese long beans or green beans, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon brown sugar

½ small red onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves or 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

¼ cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts, preferably unsalted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast coconut flakes on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Cook watercress in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until just wilted, about 10 seconds; using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander set in a large bowl of ice water. Drain, then gently squeeze out excess water. Do not cook arugula if using.

Return water in saucepan to a boil. Cook beans until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes; transfer to ice water. Drain, then pat dry.

Whisk fish sauce, lime juice and brown sugar in a large bowl until sugar dissolves. Add watercress (or arugula), beans, onion and kaffir lime leaves, and toss to coat. Serve topped with coconut and peanuts. Serves 4

Per serving: 463 calories; 13 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 25 percent calories from fat); 66 g carbohydrates; 5 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 749 mg sodium; 25 g protein; 13 g fiber.