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Minty Fresh Green Bean, Kale, and Pear Salad

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This holiday season, I am trying to get more creative and healthy by perking up some of the longstanding traditional recipes that may not necessarily be the healthiest choices. I decided to do a bright and unique new take on green beans.

Many people love green bean casseroles and green bean side dishes around the holidays, and like other holiday classics, there are lots of different recipes for this traditional dish. FoodNetwork.com has 87 recipes for green bean casseroles alone, and a whopping 1419 total recipes for green beans in general.

Instead of trying to create a healthier and updated version of the green bean casserole, I decided to go with a warm salad that has lots of different layers of flavors: a little bit sweet, a little bit sour, and a whole lot of delicious. It also has many different textures going on since I’ve combined both lightly sautéed and raw ingredients.

The following recipe is for a single serving (which I happen to be enjoying for lunch as I write this), but it can very easily be multiplied to feed however many people you happen to be feeding. You can even put it into a casserole pan if that makes you happy.

Like other salads and green bean dishes, this is best served immediately and does not do well as leftovers.

What you need:

• A handful of fresh green beans, ends cut off and cut into 1” segments
• 1 large leaf of kale (any variety…I happened to have curly kale on hand for this dish), stems removed, cut into long strips
• ¼ cup diced onions (I used red onions here but again, any variety will do)
• 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (adjust to taste…I happen to love garlic so I used two here)
• 1 teaspoon of extra virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil (I used cold-pressed)

• 2 or 3 springs of fresh mint cut into ribbons (about a tablespoon’s worth)
• 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
• 2 sage leaves cut into thin ribbons (or chiffonade-style if you want to be fancy)
• ½ of an Anjou pear cored and sliced very thinly lengthwise
• Juice from about ½ a lemon
• About a teaspoon of honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I use pink Himalayan salt, but a high quality sea salt is fine)

What to do:

I highly recommend having all of your ingredients cut up and ready to go before you start cooking; this way you won’t have to worry about burning something while you are slicing something else. Once you are ready to go and your pan is heated, sauté the garlic and onions in the coconut oil over a medium to low flame (you don’t want to overcook anything) until the onions are translucent.

Add the green beans and sauté them for a minute or two until they are bright green but still firm…you don’t want limp or mushy beans. Toss in the kale and herbs and sauté them until they are bright green, and then take them off the heat so they don’t overcook (again…soggy, overcooked greens are not appetizing). Add lemon, honey, salt, and pepper and toss together.

Plating:

Arrange the pear slices on the bottom of the plate (or platter) in whatever pattern you like…I used a pinwheel pattern here. Place the salad on top of the pears, garnish with a sprig of mint or one of the other fresh herbs used in this dish, and serve!

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About Rachael Pontillo