I was a ridiculous kid. Stubborn, bookish, bossy and opinionated. I got into trouble for speaking out in classrooms (“But Mrs. Weaver, I don’t want to do that next”) and for making a face whenever my little brothers ate some food that I thought was disgusting. Take fresh green beans from my grandmother’s garden, for example. Our green beans came in a can at home and I wanted them in a can at Grandma Virgina’s, thank you. My mother would sigh, tell me I’m crazy and crank open a can of Green Giant.
I came to my senses and stopped eating canned green beans years ago, but I never replaced them with fresh green beans. You know that little squeak you hear when you bite into a cooked, fresh green bean? My younger self did not agree with food that squeaks, and I’m not sure my adult self does, either.
That said, I couldn’t pass up these multi-colored string beans from Kansas City’s River Market last Saturday. Surely I could find a way to make these enjoyable, I thought. Then I zoomed over to Trader Joe’s for a “quick” grocery run, but of course I couldn’t find everything I needed there. Not one to give up, I found myself at a second, third and fourth store. Maddening, right?! By the time I got home that evening I was so cranky that I felt like taking a tequila shot for each of the four stores that don’t carry tahini.
Fortunately, I didn’t need any of those ingredients to make this improvised end-of-summer quinoa salad. I’ve seen quinoa at big grocery stores lately and green beans shouldn’t be hard to come by this time of year. I used a technique similar to that of last week’s broccoli pasta: sauté the green beans for a few minutes, then cook them all the way through by steaming in a bit of water. You’ll end up with squeak-free, crisp-tender blackened beans, which contribute tons of flavor to the finished salad.
Before I go, I feel compelled to tell you that something was missing from this salad when I photographed it, but I couldn’t figure out what that something was. I finally recalled the classic almonds-with-green-beans combo from my grandmother’s table and threw some slivered almonds in a pan to toast. Almonds make all the difference, so even though they aren’t shown in the pictures, please add them at the end as directed. And hey Mom, look! I’m eating real green beans and not taking tequila shots. Your little girl is all grown up.