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Green Bean and Mozzarella Salad

Sometimes a salad isn't always a salad.  To the British, salad means anything with mayo stirred in.  To many Americans, salad means using iceberg lettuce, cheddar cheese and ranch dressing.  Here we're not too far off.  Instead of lettuce, we'll use steamed green beans.  Rather than cheddar cheese, we'll use fresh mozzarella.  And the ranch dressing will be replaced by a garlicky balsamic vinaigrette.



Green Bean and Mozzarella Salad with Garlicky Balsamic Vinaigrette
Green Bean and Mozzarella Salad with Garlicky Balsamic Vinaigrette



Just like a traditional salad doesn't require a recipe, this one really doesn't either.  It's super easy to assemble in the moment and create a killer starter or side dish.

Background

This is by no means an original creation.  There is a fantastic BYO Italian restaurant in our neighborhood, Caro Mio, where this has long been a staple on their menu.  In fact, I don't think we've ever been there and not ordered this to start.  So whenever I see piles of fresh green beans at our nearby produce market, this is usually the first thing that comes to mind.

Garlicky Balsamic Vinaigrette

My preferred ratio for vinaigrette is 3:2 oil to vinegar.  For two servings, pour 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar into a mixing bowl and slowly pour in 3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil while whisking rapidly.  In this case, I used some remaining garlic infused olive oil from when I made roasted garlic confit to really push the garlic flavors over the top.

Vigorously whisking a vinaigrette is easiest if you place your mixing bowl on a non-skid mat or trivet.  It's even easier to use an immersion blender.  Go easy though and only use a few pulses, or you'll have something closer to mayonnaise.  After you've mixed the two well, add a small amount of dijon mustard to help hold the vinaigrette together.  I'll just squirt a small amount on my (clean) finger and drop it in.

Next you need to flavor the vinaigrette.  If you have any leftover basil pesto, you can drop in about a teaspoon's worth and mix in.  Otherwise add a tablespoon of fresh chopped basil and clove or two of crushed garlic.  Give it a touch of salt and pepper and taste.  You may want to tweak the oil or vinegar a bit at this point.

Ideally, let this set for a few hours in the refrigerator.  I tend to make more than I need and keep the leftovers for pasta and salads throughout the week in a small mason jar.

Assembling the Salad

As you can see in the picture, you're not building a model car here.  The steamed green beans should be well chilled, so place them in the bowl first.  Add a few slices of mozzarella, pour on the garlic balsamic vinaigrette and finish with more fresh basil and some chopped roma tomatoes.

And if you live on the north side of Chicago, do check out Caro Mio...it's one of the city's best BYO spots.