A little spring in my kitchen.

Spring is being a bit cagey this year. She doesn’t know if she really likes the sun, warm breezes, outside picnics. I mean, winter can be attractive—he’s blustery, he’s frigidly cold but then again he’s inviting, enticing people to go inside and cuddle up by the fireplace with him and a cup of steaming hot chocolate, or maybe even a warm stew. He reminds people how good home is, since every time anyone steps outside he wallops them on the head with cold air. And he encourages everyone to eat and eat, foods with lots of butter and substance, without ever asking them to put on a bathing suit.

So, she doesn’t want to let him go. She thinks they make a great pair and we’re left with this unappetizing weather that’s a mix of winter and spring—damp, too-chilly, and grey. Until Spring realizes that she’s better off without him—that we’re sick of eating root vegetables, that our lips have been chapped for one too many days, that we want to sit outside and see the sun for flup’s sake—we’ll just have to make do with a little spring in our kitchens.

This green bean salad takes advantage of all the great things Spring has to offer—even if she refuses to admit it. It’s colorful, tangy, and crisp-tasting. All you need to do is say “sunflower seeds” and you feel warmer. The green beans hold their own amidst bold vinegar and citrus flavors and I even humor Spring and mix in a bit of the best Winter has to offer us culinarily—blood oranges.

It takes some patience and a little knife skills to cut the orange into pith-and skin-free segments, though you can find a good tutorial on how to do it here (I wish I saw this post before I made the salad!) If you’re in a hurry, just peel, take as much pith off as you can manage, and use the whole segments—the salad will still taste great. Also, this salad gets better by the next day, which made me quite chipper since I usually hate day old dressed salads.

Here’s hoping that the weather soon gets as sunny as our food!

Citrus Sunflower Green Bean Salad

serves 6-8//adapated from Techniques of Healthy Cooking

For the salad:

  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 3 blood oranges, cut into segments *You need 4 oranges total in this recipe
  • 1 sweet white onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces salted and roasted sunflower seeds
  • salt and pepper

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • *1 blood orange, juiced
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 shallot cloves, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper

Cook beans in boiling water for a few minutes, until barely tender. Drain and run under cold water to cool.

Combine beans, blood orange segments, onions, sunflower seeds in a large bowl. Season a little with salt and pepper.

To make the vinaigrette, combine cornstarch with 1 teaspoon water and mix to make a “slurry.” Set aside. Bring stock to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the slurry and stir until the stock thickens, about 2 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Combine with the remaining ingredients and whisk well.

Pour vinaigrette over the bean mixture. Toss and serve. Can be made a day ahead of time. The leftover salad will last in the fridge for a few days.