Picnic salads are some of the best summer foods. What would any outdoor cookout be without them? I can't imagine fried chicken without potato salad or steak without three-bean salad. The classic recipes are always appreciated, but sometimes it's nice to try something new—with a twist. This time I decided to reinvent the classic three-bean salad with a recipe that uses all fresh beans, with three different kinds—and colors.
This salad has yellow wax beans, green string beans, and purple wax beans. But it's hard to tell from the picture which ones are purple, because they lose most of their color once cooked. A shallot, though, makes up for the loss of purple color. Using herbs in the vinaigrette adds refreshing earthy flavor. And topping the salad with ricotta salata cheese adds a slight salty tanginess. This Mediterranean-style salad is great for party picnics with family and friends. Plus it pairs with just about any comfort food.
Here is a tip to take away the strong bite of shallots and onions when using them raw in recipes. Macerate the onions, either sliced or chopped, in a little vinegar for 5 minutes. Then drain. The onions leach out the harsh onion flavor into the vinegar, which then gets discarded.
Tricolore Three-Bean Salad
1/2 pound yellow wax beans, ends trimmed
1/2 pound green string beans, ends trimmed
1/2 pound purple wax beans, ends trimmed
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped mixed herbs, such as thyme, oregano, and/or marjoram
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
ricotta salata, for grating
Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to the boil. Blanch beans in batches by color, from the lightest in color to the darkest, for 3 to 5 minutes. Immediately remove to a bowl of iced water. Drain.
Combine sliced shallot with 1/4 cup vinegar. Macerate for 5 minutes. Drain.
Whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, olive oil, and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss beans and shallot with vinaigrette. Transfer to a serving bowl and grate over with ricotta salata. Serve cold or at room temperature. Yield: 6 servings.