Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen: Spring into salads

By JANINE GILBERTSON April 10. 2018 10:24PM
Too many green beans? Add quinoa, carrots and garbanzo beans and have yourself a meal. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

I love shopping in the produce section at the grocery store. I find the brightly colored fruits and vegetables inspiring, especially when it’s an unusual produce that I haven’t tried before.

Sometimes I buy fresh vegetables on sale, bring them home and try new ways to enjoy them in salads or side dishes. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a package of green beans for a couple of bucks. When I opened the package to cook them, I realized I had more green beans than I knew what to do with, so I got busy and put them to good use.

I decided to try them in a couple of cold salads and created one with sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli, Israeli couscous, red pepper and fresh parsley and tossed it with a little truffle oil, lemon juice and red wine vinegar dressing. The second salad I made had quinoa, carrot and garbanzo beans with some red onion, diced carrot and fresh parsley. The dressing was made with a little white balsamic vinegar, garlic and some olive oil; a simple concoction packed with bright, fresh flavors that paired well with the green beans.

Even though I made two good-sized salads, I still had green beans left over so I blanched them, packed them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer.

If you’re looking for something different to try in a spring salad, pansies are also an option. The flower is edible and often used in fine restaurants — most people set the bloom aside assuming it’s just for decoration.

If you have spring pansies in your garden and are willing to spare a few blossoms, you can toss them in a salad. Pansies have a mild, fresh flavor and a delicate texture.

The bluish-purple ones can have a slight wintergreen taste. I tossed a few pansies into a spinach salad with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing and it worked well together.

I’m not sure I would sacrifice the blooms for a salad again because we waited so long for spring’s arrival, I want the flowers to stick around as long as possible to keep things bright through mud season.

Green Bean, Carrot and Quinoa Salad

2 c. fresh green beans, steamed

16 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 c. carrot, diced

1/2 c. red pepper, diced

1/2 c. quinoa, cooked

1/2 c. red onion, diced

2 T. parsley, chopped

2 T. olive oil

1 T. white balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp. sugar

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper



Add green beans, garbanzo beans, carrot, red pepper, quinoa, red onion and parsley to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, add olive oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper; whisk to combine then drizzle over bean mixture. Toss to coat and serve.
Flowers don’t have to be relegated to your garden, a vase or your hair. Flowers, such as pansies, add a subtle flavor to salads. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Spinach Salad with Pansies 

2 c. fresh baby spinach

1/2 c. peas

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

1/4 c. carrot, diced

1/4 c. edible pansy flowers

1 T. olive oil

2 tsp. raspberry vinegar

1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1/4 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Pinch of fresh ground black pepper



Add spinach, peas, red pepper and carrot to a bowl. In a separate bowl, add olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and sugar and whisk together. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine; add pansies and garnish with salt and pepper before serving.
Green Bean Sun-Dried Tomato Salad (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Green Bean Sun-Dried Tomato Salad

2 c. fresh green beans, steamed

2 c. Israeli couscous, cooked

3/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

2 c. broccoli florets, steamed

1/2 c. red peppers, chopped

2 T. fresh parsley, chopped

2 T.truffle oil (or olive oil)

1T.fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 T. grated Parmesan cheese



Add green beans, couscous, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and red peppers to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, add oil, lemon juice, vinegar and salt and whisk together. Drizzle dressing over green beans and couscous mixture; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan before serving.


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