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My favorite time as a child was the first week of school (although I don't remember being the nerdy type!). I just loved the smell of new books, getting all the pens ready and pencils sharpened, putting together my math rulers (no calculators were allowed). It was just exciting to see old friends and teachers and meet new ones. Last week was the first week of school for my kids, and first year for my little Sophie. I get just as excited for them as I did when I was a kid, and I think my enthusiasm gets them both so eager to start the year and they adjust to the new schedule pretty easily.
As for me, it's taking me a week to find my groove. This is the first time in a long while that I don't have a kid with me at all times. I find myself a little lost sometimes and wondering how to begin my three year old list of projects that I couldn't tackle before. So before I begin scratching items off my list, I wanted to share with you this very simple salad. It's my mother-in-law's favorite and a wonderful summer side dish.
I love Romano or sometimes called Italian Beans. They're flatter and wider than the usual Pole Beans. I used to help my Téta (Grandma) pick baskets of them from the vegetable field. Back home, this is the variety most widely used, we call it Loobi. What is left of the bounty is typically laced through and made into a long string or loop and dried for use during winter months (a traditional custom dating back to when there was electricity for freezing). It's cooked with tomatoes like here, or in a stew with lamb, bulgur or rice. You may find this variety at your local market and if not, you can certainly substitute with pole beans or any other bean variety in fact.
Romano Beans Salad with a Garlic Lemon Dressing
1 lb Romano Beans, washed and trimmed
2 cups water (enough to submerge the beans)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed (you may need more depending on the acidity of your lemons)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
1 tsp mint, dried
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Wash the beans. Snip the ends off, then break off in 1" or 1.5" pieces. I like to do this part by hand, but you can also cut then with a knife (use a sharp one so the bean doesn't bruise). Once all cut, place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for approx. 20 minutes or until the bean is soft and has no resistance to bite. Remove from heat, drain and put the beans in an ice bath to stop cooking. Drain after a couple of minutes and set aside.
For the dressing, mince the garlic, add salt and pepper, then lemon juice, dried mint and whisk olive oil as it poured slowly. Toss the beans with the dressing (the dressing should be generous) and serve cold or at room temperature.