I tried a version of this recipe a couple of weeks ago. It was one that I had stumbled upon through our wonderous, time-sucking friend, Pinterest. But, the Mr. declared that batch "too sweet". Okay. Challenge accepted. I fiddled around with the recipe all last week, and finally came up with one that satisfied the tastebuds of two picky little eaters, and a man with a very discerning appetite. And, myself. These beans are absolutely delicious!
A little history on balsamic vinegar... did you know that JUST 25 years ago, it was virtually impossible to acquire in the US... "tradizionale" versions anyhow? It had to be given as gifts from Italian friends that wanted to share a little of their culture with us cuisine-addled folks Stateside. Balsamic vinegar's uniqueness lies in tha it is made from unfermented grape must, as opposed to wine. Unlike it's common US counterparts, rather than being of a liquid consistency, it is more of a syrup. Quality balsamic vinegars are pricey, but WELL worth the cost. And fortunately, much like the costly saffron... a little goes a long way. I prefer the Elsa brand. Trust me... subpar balsamic vinegars will simply ruin this tasty side dish.
Roasted Soy-Balsamic Bean Salad
1 lb. fresh green beans
8 oz. fresh, sliced mushrooms (I used button mushrooms, but I imagine cremini muschrooms would be tasty too!)
3 cloves of fresh garlic
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
3 slices of bacon
Shaved parmesan cheese, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Let's start off with those green beans. As always... fresh is best! I absolutely CANNOT wait until my green beans get going in the garden. Walking outside to pick a collander full, and THEN making this recipe? Heaven.
Clean off those mushrooms. Slice them if you need to.
Slice the garlic cloves into 1/8" pieces. Don't slice them too thin. Too thin = burnt garlic. Burnt garlic = nasty, NASTY taste.
Toss the green beans, garlic and mushrooms into a large Ziplock bag. Add the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and olive oil to the bag. Seal the bag, and gently massage the contents until all veggies are nicely covered in the marinade. Refrigerate for up to one hour.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon. Take a tip from the pros... bake it. Frying it in a pan leads to uneven cooking, wasted time constantly flipping, and more shrinkage of the meat. I use that handy little vented roasting pan that comes with most new ovens. The vents allow the bacon grease to drain into the bottom of the pan... makes saving that grease for later SO much easier. But, you can also use a cookie sheet with a wire rack placed on top. Bake the bacon at 400* for 10-20 minutes. I cooked mine for about 12 minutes. You don't want it super-crispy for this recipe. Bacon that is a little on the chewier side is perfecto! Once the bacon is done, remove from oven; set aside to cool. Once cooled, chop into bite-sized pieces, and save to toss with salad when it is cooked.
Back to those beans and mushrooms... spread them out onto a non-stick baking sheet. You want to have them even spread across the sheet. Crowding the beans will not allow them to have that crisp-tender texture when you bite into them.
Roast in a 450* oven for about 15 minutes. Check for doneness. My oven is a little on the rushed side. I'm thinking most normal oven would take about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and, using a spatula, move to a serving bowl. Add bacon, kosher salt, pepper and shaved parmesan to taste. Use salad tongs to gently toss salad. Donezo!
This salad went nicely with a honey-baked ham, fresh-baked rolls, and a hearty helping of The Ultimate Mash.
And, although this ins't my recipe... I will ALWAYS give credit where credit is due. For dessert that night, we had Pink Rhubarb Cake...
My word, if that cake isn't worth EVERY calorie contained therein... I don't know what is! Bon appetit!