Cooking Without the Cow

I have a dairy allergy. I digest it well enough but it gives me a headache, which is not fun. I do use a little butter, especially in baking, because margarine scares me. Cheese is such a prevalent ingredient in even vegetarian offerings that I have had to experiment with different dishes to come up with some staples that will work for my family. I hope you enjoy them, too!

Monday, July 03, 2006

For the love of (Italian String Bean Salad) is the best. I'm on a tight budget and can't afford to buy every book or movie that interests me, so I go there and usually find what I want, gently used, for a fraction of the retail price.

Case in point - Rao's Recipes From the Neighborhood. (The link is to only because no one from reviewed the book.) I enjoy Italian food whenever I have it. This book, from its synopsis, looked like the Italian background I could have had, had I been Italian. I wish-listed it and was able to buy it used sometime later. Kids, this book is exactly what I needed - super simple, practical and delicious food.

I had tried out a copycat recipe for Olive Garden's Fettucine Alfredo on The Boy a couple of months ago for a special occasion, and he honestly wasn't wowed. (I don't eat dairy, but he does.) The homemade version from the Neighborhood, on the other hand, was much better in both texture and flavor and he thoroughly enjoyed it, my ever-present added spinach included. (I saw the adorable Tyler Florence make his version on television and, sadly, it seemed more like the recipe that paled in comparison to what I now refer to as the "real" one.) Then I made their String Bean Salad for a potluck because it looked tasty, healthy and didn't have any mayo in it to worry about on a hot summer day. I confess that my healthy dishes usually come home from potlucks at least 1/3 full, because an unfortunate number of people really aren't interested in food that isn't cheesy or fried in some way. This time, however, there wasn't much left in the bowl. As a matter of fact, one Italian man wanted to know who brought it because it brought back happy memories of his childhood picnics. What an unexpected blessing that was - and it was so easy to make!

Insalata di Fagiolini Verdi
Serves 4

1lb string beans, trimmed
½ c olive oil
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 large baking potatoes*, peeled and cut into eighths, then boiled until tender, 12 to 15 minutes
¼ c red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the string beans and cook for approximately 7 minutes until they are just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and set the color.

In a large bowl, combine the beans, oil, onion, potatoes, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Toss and refrigerate. Serve.

*Note: I use scrubbed, unpeeled red-skinned potatoes because I prefer them. They're healthier and prettier, too.


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