Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad

3/4 pound green beans, stems pinched off

1 teaspoon finely chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons heavy cream
scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
tiny pinch of freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon honey (optional)

a handful of frisee or little gem hearts

a handful of small cherry tomatoes, each cut in half
1/2 cup hazelnuts, smashed and toasted

Start by making the dressing. Whisk together the chives, thyme, shallots, lemon juice, heavy cream, salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil with a fork, stirring until everything comes together. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Sometimes my lemon dressings have a puckery edge to them, and when that happens I just whisk in just a touch of honey to counterbalance the sour. Set aside.

In the meantime, bring two quarts of water to a boil. Salt generously and stir in the green beans. Cook for about 1 1/2 minutes. Just until the beans brighten up and soften a touch, I go a bit beyond “al dente” here for this salad. Quickly drain them and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

In a large bowl toss the green beans with the frisee, about 1/2 of the hazelnuts, with a big splash of the dressing. Toss well. Taste, and add more dressing, salt or pepper at this point. Toss again if needed. Add the tomatoes and toss very gently.

You can turn this out onto a platter or plate individually topped with the remaining hazelnuts

Sauteed Zucchini with Marcona Almonds

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 medium shallots or new red onions, thinly sliced
fine grain sea salt
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch thick coins
a good handful of dill, chopped
1/4 cup Marcona almonds or toasted almond slices

In your largest skillet heat the oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and cook until it starts to take on a hint of color. Stir in the shallots and a big pinch of salt, and cook until they start to soften, a couple minutes. Add the zucchini, stir to get it coated with a bit of oil, and arrange the coins in as much of a single layer as your pan permits. Dial the heat up a bit if needed, add another pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the zucchini browns – ten minutes or so. Remove from heat and fold in the dill and almonds before serving. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Cucumber Peanut Salad

medium cucumbers, partially peeled
1-2 green serrano chiles, stemmed and minced
1/2 cup / 2.5 ounces / 70 g peanuts, toasted
1/3 cup / 1.5 ounces / 45 g dried large-flake coconut, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar
1 tablespoon, ghee, clarified butter, or sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
a handful cilantro, chopped

Halve the cucumbers lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and chop into pieces roughly the size of pencil erasers. Just before you’re ready to serve, transfer to a mixing bowl and toss gently with chiles, peanuts, coconut, lemon juice, and sugar.

Over medium heat melt the ghee in a small skillet. When hot stir in the mustard seeds. They are going to sputter and spit a bit, and when this starts to happen, add the cumin for 15-30 seconds, just long enough to toast the spices. Cover with a lid if needed. Remove from heat, stir in the salt, and immediately stir this into the salad. Turn out onto a patter topped with the cilantro.