I don’t know about you, but when I wake up with a craving for something, I usually have to have it.
The thought won’t go out of my head until I am enjoying the taste that called to me from my dreams.
For a few days I had the thought of fresh green beans in my head and finally gave in and bought some. Then I had to figure out what to do with them. I mean, who wants to eat plain green beans? Well, I do now and then, but I wanted some that just tasted like a bit of heaven.
Since I am not good at planning things, I rummaged through the fridge and opened up the cabinets pulling out this and that if it sounded like it would go well with the green beans.
A vidalia onion started the snowball of ingredients. I decided to caramelize it while I figured out what else I would add to the salad. And slowly it all came together.
Green bean, mushroom and caramelized onion salad
1 large vidalia onion
1 pound crimini mushrooms
2 pounds fresh green beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cup cranberry (or apple cider) vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup unrefined sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut onion in half and slice thinly. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick or cast-iron skillet. When oil is hot, stir in onion, making sure not to let it burn. Stir occasionally until onion starts to soften. Stir in sugar. Reduce heat, and let the onion cook down for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Stir in water a tablespoon at a time as needed. Stir in 1/2 cup cranberry vinegar and juice from the orange and let simmer 5 to 10 minutes longer or until most of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in remaining vinegar. Let cool.
Cut the stems off the green beans and cut them into 1- to 1 1/2-inch slices. You want them to be bite-sized for the salad. Set aside. Bring water to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan. While you are waiting for the water to boil, slice the mushrooms. Heat remaining olive oil in a saute pan, adding mushrooms when oil is hot. Saute until mushrooms turn a golden brown – about five minutes or so. Add green beans to water, remove from heat and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain water. Let cool.
Mix together the green beans, mushrooms and onion, including remaining liquid. Toss in cranberries and almonds and salt and pepper. Stir in orange zest and a few sprigs of thyme, stems removed. Salt and pepper to taste.