Ham and Green Bean Soup

This is an old family recipe.  My mom’s grandma would make this every spring just as the green beans came up in the garden.  It’s a great, easy recipe that’s total comfort food.  I actually made this using a frozen ham hock that we saved from Easter.  You can also just buy a ham hock at the store, or make this soup whenever you’re making a ham and freeze it for later.  If green beans aren’t in season, you can use frozen green beans, just throw them in in the last few minutes and cook until heated through.

Ham and Green Bean SoupHam and Green Bean Soup (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 10-12

  • 1 large ham hock
  • water to cover the hock (about 10-15 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley (optional)
  • 6 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 5 large carrots, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 5 cups green beans, cut in “1 pieces
  • 2-3 cups diced ham
  • 2 Tbsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream or plain Greek yogurt to garnish

In a large stock pot, combine ham hock, water, salt, bay leaves and dried parsley.  Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about two hours, stirring occasionally.  Remove the ham hock from the pot and let cool.  Pick any remaining ham off the bone and reserve for later.

Add potatoes and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until beginning to get tender.  Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until vegetables are fork-tender.  Add green beans and ham to the pot and cook for about 8 minutes, or until green beans are bright green and tender and the ham is heated through.  Add dill, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Salmon Cake Salad Nicoise

This updated salad nicoise uses salmon cakes instead of the traditional tuna.  This is a great way to make a salad exciting, or a great way to serve either of these salmon cakes.  Adding salmon cakes to the other traditional aspects of a nicoise salad, like potatoes, green beans, eggs, tomatoes, and olives makes this a great update.   I also like to keep things flavorful throughout the salad, so after boiling the potatoes (when they’re still warm), I dressed them in a honey-mustard vinaigrette, that way each bite of potato is packed with flavor.

Salmon Cake Salad NicoiseSalmon Cake Salad Nicoise (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 4-6

  • 1 salmon cake per person
  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 6 potatoes (I prefer to keep the skin on, so choose a new potato or red potato)
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups green beans
  • 3 hearts of romaine, chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup kalamata or green olives, optional (I didn’t use olives since the salmon cakes had capers in them)
  • honey mustard vinaigrette, to taste

Place washed potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water and add salt.  Cook over high heat, and let boil for about 15 minutes, or until fork tender.  Remove potatoes from the water and leave the water on the stove.  Add green beans to the boiling water and blanche for a few minutes until tender, then run under cold water to stop the cooking and keep the bright green color.  Chop green beans into thirds.  When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into large dice and drizzle with about 1/3 cup honey mustard vinaigrette.

To assemble the salad, divide chopped romaine between plates.  Add 1 salmon cake and sliced hard boiled egg to each plate, then divide potatoes, green beans, tomatoes and olives equally.  Serve with honey-mustard vinaigrette on the side.

Garden Bean Salad

I love me some beans.  They’re a great source of fiber and protein.  They’re delicious hot, cold or room temperature, they place nice with tons of different flavors, and they’re easy.  Despite my bean love, I’ve never quite liked three bean salad.  There’s a weird sweetness to it that tastes kind of stale to me.  So this is my update on a three bean salad, with lots of vegetables to up the freshness (and health benefits!).  You can use pretty much whatever you have on hand.  I’m usually not a fan of raw onion, so I used shallots which have a slightly milder taste, and I soaked the slices in cold water while preparing the rest of the salad to give them an even milder flavor.  In the end I thought they added a nice subtle spiciness, but weren’t too overwhelming.  You could also mince red onion, or just slice red onion depending on your love of onions.

Garden Bean SaladGarden Bean Salad (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 12-15

Adapted from Food Network Magazine, September 2010

  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 (15oz) cans small white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, diced (orange would be nice for the color, but whatever you like)
  • 3 cups frozen green beans, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

Soak shallots in cold water while preparing the rest of the salad.  In a large bowl, combine beans, corn, tomatoes, bell pepper, and green beans.  Mix in the drained shallots.

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, oil and pepper.  Pour dressing over the salad, let marinate at room temperature for about an hour.  Garnish with parsley, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Green Bean, Corn and Potato Salad

Fresh from the farm produce is amazing.  On yet another fruit picking outing, Mom and I picked Honey Crisp apples, blackberries, and peaches.  We also picked up a whole bunch of vegetables while were on the farm.  This salad is a great way of showcasing your farm (or farmer’s market) fresh produce.  The dressing is flavorful but not overpowering.

Green Bean, Corn and Potato Salad

Serves 6

Adapted from Love and Lemons

  • 4-5 fist sized potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 cups green beans, blanched, chopped in 1 inch pieces
  • 1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 3 ears of corn, grilled and kernels cut off
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp capers, drained (optional)


  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp agave or honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Drizzle chopped potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden.

Whisk dressing ingredients together and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine roasted potatoes, blanched green beans, grilled corn kernels, basil and capers.  Pour half of the dressing on the salad, taste and adjust seasoning and/or add more dressing.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Green Bean, Mushroom and Barley Salad

This is a great easy salad.  I decided to leave out the suggested feta from the original recipe, but I think that would be a wonderful flavor addition, or goat cheese!  This also makes a huge quantity (and is easy to make more or less of), so it’s great for potlucks or parties.

Roasted Green Bean, Mushroom and Barley Salad

Serves 45-50

Adapted from Closet Cooking

  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups pearl barley
  • 2 1/2 lbs baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 lbs green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 large vidalia onions, roughly chopped
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • feta or goat cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Rinse the barley and add to a large pot.  Add water  to the pot and bring to a boil, let simmer until barley is tender and water is absorbed.

Spread green beans, mushrooms, and onions out on large baking sheets, drizzle with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper; mix around with your hands. Bake for about 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown.

Mix everything together in a large bowl, top with walnuts and/or cheese if using.  Serve hot or room temperature.


So last night’s SCL dinner was my 12th week.  It was also the last class of the second term (don’t worry, a 3rd term starts next week!).  After all this time I figured it was about time I made the ultimate scary vegetarian food:  tofu!

I’m a big fan of tofu, but don’t make it very often because it takes a bit of planning.  I think I changed some opinions on tofu, this was a VERY popular salad!  I served this with the Mango and Mint Salad with Cashews, and the best cupcakes I’ve ever made!

Tofu, Mushroom, Green Bean and Grain Salad

Serves 20

Adapted from Cooking Light (September 2010)


  • 4 (12oz) packages extra-firm tofu, drained and rinsed
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated


  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 4 cups uncooked bulgur wheat
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 lbs green beans, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 package dried shiitake mushrooms,
  • 2 cups very hot water
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup green onions, thinly sliced


  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 8 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 8 Tbsp honey
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

The day before serving, press your tofu.  Drain and rinse the tofu in cold water, then wrap tofu in a clean dish towel (or paper towels) and put something heavy on top (like a pan with your olive oil bottle on top).  Let sit for several hours or overnight.  Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and garlic into a large ziploc bag.  Once the tofu has been pressed, cut into bite sized pieces and add to the marinade bag.  Allow the tofu to marinate for several hours.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Bake for 35 minutes, turning halfway through.  Allow tofu to cool.

Toast the bulgur wheat in the 2 tsp sesame oil for a few minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the water and salt and bring to a boil.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.  (Alternatively, you can use the leftover water after soaking the dried mushrooms for extra flavor.)

Cook the green beans in boiling water for about 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender.  Drain and plunge into an ice bath.  Drain well and pat dry.  Add the beans to the cooked bulgur.

Soak the dried shiitake in very hot water for about 2 minutes.  Drain, and place mushrooms in a skillet, saute with the baby bella and about 1 Tbsp of the dressing.

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a large measuring cup, and whisk until well mixed.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, and pour dressing on just before serving.  Serve room temperature or cold.