Salads are quintessential summer fare, but they don’t have to be the predictable mixed greens drizzled with oil and vinegar or the ubiquitous Caesar. With some imagination and a small amount of extra effort, you can definitely make this course the star of your menu.
Take the Haricots Verts and Chorizo Salad that follows. I created this colorful and robustly flavored mélange of tender blanched green beans topped with sautéed chorizo and sieved hard-boiled eggs while in France last summer. Tossed in a mustard dressing made with sherry vinegar and shallots, it was the pièce de résistance at a dinner for friends in Paris. When I included this recipe at my annual salads class here in New England, its popularity was confirmed again when my students voted it their favorite.
Because it can be prepared in advance, this salad is perfect to include when you don’t want any last-minute fuss. It makes a great addition to a warm-weather buffet, and is likely to disappear quickly!
Haricots Verts and Chorizo Salad in Sherry Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more if needed
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 pound haricots verts or tender green beans, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces Spanish-style chorizo, cut into 1/2 inch dice (Use Spanish-style chorizo in casing, not loose Mexican-style chorizo.)
1 large egg, hard boiled and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped chives
For the dressing, in a large, nonreactive bowl whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, and then stir in the shallots. (Dressing can be prepared 6 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)
For the salad, bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the beans and 2 to 3 teaspoons salt. Boil until tender, 5 to 6 minutes or about 2 minutes longer for tender young green beans. Drain beans in a colander, and place under cold running water until cool. Pat dry. (Beans can be prepared 6 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.)
Heat olive oil in a medium, heavy skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add chorizo, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. (Chorizo can be prepared 2 hours ahead; leave uncovered at cool room temperature.)
To assemble salad, toss the beans in half of the dressing, and season with more salt if needed. Arrange the beans down the center of a medium platter. Sprinkle chorizo and then the chopped egg over the beans. Garnish with a sprinkle of chives. Serves 4 to 5.