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The Long and Short of It

These long beans, measuring about a half yard in length, are a staple for me in Chinese cooking.

Snipped into manageable lengths, they cook up quickly for all-manner of stir-fry dishes.

But after snagging a couple of bunches recently at my local farmers market, I decided to give them a more Mediterranean treatment.

Cut into about 2-inch lengths and briefly blanched in the microwave, I used them as the basis for a quick salad that also made good use of preserved lemons from my fridge, as well as lemon thyme and lemon verbena, both growing miraculously in my backyard, despite my oft-black thumb. Some chopped parsley, crumbled feta, a squirt of lemon juice, a glug of olive oil, and a grind of black pepper completed it.

The slender,¬† sturdy long beans have more crunch than regular ol’ slippery green beans on the palate. They also stand up well to the assertive flavors of the salty cheese and preserved lemon.

Plus, I just love the way they look.

And that’s the short of it.

Long Bean Salad with Feta and Preserved Lemons

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

2 bunches Chinese long beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths

2/3 of a preserved lemon (Note: see link for recipe below)

1 tablespoon EACH lemon thyme and lemon verbena leaves (optional)

Handful of fresh, chopped parsley

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

In a large microwavable dish, place cut long beans with 1/4 cup water. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes or until tender but still crisp. Drain beans and spread out on a large plate or cookie sheet to cool.

Rinse preserved lemon. Cut off about 2/3 of a lemon, scraping flesh from the rind. Finely chop the rind; save flesh for another purpose.

Pick  leaves from lemon thyme and lemon verbena stems, if using. Mince leaves.

In a large bowl, place minced preserved lemon rind, minced lemon thyme, lemon verbena, and chopped parsley. Add cooled long beans, along with olive oil. Toss until ingredients are incorporated. Add lemon juice and black pepper. Toss again. Finally, sprinkle crumbled feta over the top.

From Carolyn Jung

More: Making Preserved Lemons

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