Saturday, December 31, 2011

Green bean salsa

Actually, this is a vegan take on the Thai salad called som tam--or rather, the dressing for that salad, which is supposed to be served with shredded green papaya.  I didn't have any papaya, but I wanted to try the dressing anyway because of its peculiar (to me) use of raw green beans as an ingredient.  Here you see all the ingredients for the dressing, which are:

4-6 green chilis (depending on the heat of your chilis and how hot you like your dressing)
2 cloves garlic
1 cup (100g) green beans
3 tbsp tamarind paste or lemon or lime juice
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
2 medium tomatoes.

All you do is coarsely chop the chilis and garlic and blend them up in a food processor:

Add all the other ingredients except the tomatoes:

And, finally, add the tomatoes and process.  My recipe didn't specify what the texture of the final result should be, so I left it a little chunky.  It made about two cups:

Now, this stuff is really good--the green beans add a very unexpectedly nice freshness that is complimented by the acid from the tamarind and the tomatoes--but it didn't scream salad dressing to me.  What it really tastes like is salsa.  Nevertheless, I had it for lunch in a salad of shredded vegetables and shirataki noodles.  This whole giant bowl of salad, including the dressing, has about 100 calories:

When you stir it all together, the shiritaki noodles take on a lovely colour from the beets:
...and it was quite good, and very filling if you eat enough of it.  I did eat enough of it and was ready for a little less raw roughage for supper, so I made a thick soup out of some of the vegetables I had around.

Here you see Step 1, onions, garlic, mushrooms, parsnip, thyme, marjoram, and fennel seed sauteed in a little peanut oil:

Stir fry these until they begin to be tender.  Step 2 is the addition of savoy cabbage:

...then bean stock and water, some vegetable broth powder, kabocha squash, lima beans, and 2 tbsp brown bulgur wheat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the bulgur and vegetables are tender (the lima beans fell apart and gave this stew its substance):

And I added some of the som tam dressing as a topping.  This is where it belongs, at least in my kitchen!  This soup was stupendous, a little over 400 calories for the whole thing (two really big bowls).  In fact, it was so good I think I'll make another variation on it tomorrow...


  1. Both dishes look so great. I love the way you show various uses for a single ingredient, or especially a condiment. I have a collection of way too many condiments that I use once and never again. The shirataki dish looks fabulous, and definitely like something I'll make but the soup with cabbage, lima and bulghur is also totally compelling! Thank you for both of these!

  2. I must say, the title is very intriguing...I was conjuring up images of tortilla chips dipped in a green bean sauce. I love green papaya salad, I had no idea there green beans in the dressing! That's awesome. Both the salad and the stew look stunning and delicious!

    Happy NEw Year Zoa!

  3. Thanks, Maud and Rose! I had the green beans again the next day (finished them because like most salsas I didn't think they would keep long), and they were just as good. I'll definitely make the salsa again. As for the soup, it was so good! I didn't expect it but I could totally taste the bulghur, which was nice. The idea of thickening soup with bulghur came from one of my Middle Eastern cookbooks.