Same time last year...

One year. I know it’s been said, and sounds awfully trite, but it doesn’t seem like one year at all. It seems both much more and much less. Much more because my life before this seems so very far away. Much less because I feel like this first year, with all its adventures, sped past me no matter how hard I tried to pull the reins in a bit.

So we are returning to the island where this all started…without the dress (although I do have a less bridal little number to take its place), without the guests, without the photographers. Just us and the beach…

Before I go, I leave you with (as promised) the first dish I tried from Chocolate & Zucchini. I was drawn to this dish as it showcased only a few flavors, letting each shine and complement the other. I had also come across some French beans in the market that were calling my name!

This isn’t Clotilde’s exact recipe as I reduced it to feed only two (something I usually have to do with most recipes). I also didn’t have any parsley (the original does and I’ll be sure to add it in next time). I didn’t have any pecans either, so I substituted walnuts (which Clotilde indicates is a fine substitution).

French Bean Salad with Walnuts and Dry-Cured Ham
(adapted from Salade de Haricots Verts, Noix de Pécan, & Jambon Cru, from Chocolate & Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier)
  • 150 grams French beans, trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 thin slices jamon Serrano, shredded (Clotilde uses jambon d’Ardèche, but other dry cured ham, like prosciutto or Parma, will work as well)
  • 1/8 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

- Steam the beans for 8-10 minutes, until just cooked through and still crisp. Plunge in cold water (to stop cooking) and drain.
- In a salad bowl whisk the oil and vinegar together. Add salt and pepper (remember that you will be adding ham later, which is also salty, so don’t overdo it).
- Add beans (and parsley if you are using it) and toss gently to coat with dressing. Adjust seasoning.
- Arrange ham and nuts over the beans.
- Serves 2 as a side dish.

You may serve this immediately or refrigerate for a day, just remove it from the fridge half an hour before eating. I was rushing around so I removed it only right before we were going to eat, so we had it chilled. In this heat it was actually perfect that way. Cool and crisp and refreshing. This salad is so easy to whip up, but its taste is much more luxurious then its simplicity belies. The fresh crunch of the beans with the zing of the dressing just barely clinging to it, the earthy walnuts, and the silky-salty rich jamon…the combination is delicious!

I’m off to get ready and pack…see you all when I get back! :)