When summer’s heat approaches the triple digits, there are really only two options: grit your teeth and hunker down in an air conditioned cell until October, or find ways to celebrate the small, cool pleasures that make the dog days bearable (think swimming holes, flip flops, hibiscus tea, early morning walks, and watermelon). And taking a cue from culinary traditions that understand a thing or two about steamy weather is certainly a smart move. We love this cool salad, which uses crisp, tender, Chinese Long Beans, a cultivar from subtropical climates that thrives through our long, hot summers. A tart lime vinaigrette is balanced by toasty peanuts and coconut; fish sauce and basil add savory complexity. With a bowl of sticky rice, this is a salad hearty enough for a light dinner, but add grilled pork chops or tofu alongside for heartier eaters.
Long Bean Salad with Basil
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1 pound Chinese Long Beans (red or green), cut into 2” lengths
1 small red onion, slivered
½ c unsweetened coconut
½ c roasted peanuts, salted or unsalted
1 big bunch basil, coarsely chopped
4 T lime juice
4 T fish sauce
2 T light brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Spread coconut on a small baking sheet and toast until fragrant and lightly golden. In a large pot of salted water, blanch beans until just tender, about 30 seconds. Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water, then drain and pat dry. Place beans in a large bowl with onion, coconut, peanuts, and basil and set aside while you make the dressing. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Place in a serving bowl or platter and top with additional basil leaves to serve.