June 7th, 2011

Ray’s Green Beans, with bacon, corn, buttermilk and dill


With the currents of change ever in motion, I find comfort in certain annual arrivals, those things that show up, over and over, almost like clockwork. Habits and rituals!

Every March, coinciding with Bill’s goddaughter’s birthday, our plum tree puts out a shock of blooms–a portent of the fruit to come. By the 4th of July, I can count on finding the first of the Bradley tomatoes, in all their ripe-red glory, at the farmers market.

And, in early June, right before Nashville’s Country Music “Fan Fare,” our good neighbor and gardener Ray appears with his special fare: the gift of his green beans: thin, tender, and just picked.


Yesterday afternoon, a knock at the front door–and there was Ray, brown sack of green beans in hand. “Time for your yearly allotment,” he said with a wry smile.

I peeked inside. The beans still had the garden warmth in them.


When presented with fresh-as-it-gets, one is prudent to act quickly. I thanked Ray, and made haste to the kitchen to reassess dinner plans. Something different for a salad!


We have been eating a lot of salads. Our garden plot of mixed lettuces has been flourishing. Each day, I pick and clean a few handfuls for dinner. I might pluck a few sprigs from the feathery patch of dillweed. Rows of green onions have grown tall–so great to yank a couple of them out of the ground as needed.

And, the weather has been more like late August than early June. It’s propelled us to cool dining: minimal use of the stove, and maximum use of the greens, before summer temperatures turn them bitter.

I remembered a wonderful salad I had many years ago in Philadelphia, at a little independent cafe called The White Dog. Very forward in the farm-to-table movement, they procured their produce from the Amish in Lancaster County. This salad married fresh grilled corn, greens, and bacon in a tangy buttermilk based dressing. It was simple and delicious—and could be adapted in a number of directions.

Green beans, such as Ray’s, would work. Later in the summer, some Sungold tomatoes would be divine in the toss. Cucumbers are a natural. Poached Salmon too.

It all hinges on the buttermilk.


Essentially a “ranch” dressing, this is what ranch might really be like, if it weren’t distilled into a packaged powder, or laced with corn syrup, chemical preservatives and bottled. Buttermilk dressings are so easy to whisk up, so tasty, that you’ll never want the commercially made stuff ever.

Green onions and fresh dill bring the summer garden into the dressing.

I’ve made this batch a little thin—with less mayo. If you like a more full-bodied dressing, add a spoonful or two more.

As for this salad, you can use one skillet for the small amount of cooking. First, cook the bacon. After you remove the crisp bits and drain off the grease, griddle and char the corn. It will pick up a little leftover smokiness. Last, those slender green beans–which take mere moments to blanche: Add a little water to the same skillet, and give them a quick plunge.

A delectable combination of creamy and crisp, salt and sweet,

Yet another delicious way to celebrate my yearly allotment.


2 strips thick-cut Bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large ear of Corn
4 oz. fresh Green Beans
fresh washed Lettuces for salad base
Buttermilk-Dill Dressing (see below)

In a large skillet, cook bacon on medium low heat until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel to drain. Pour off grease. Return skillet to heat and drop in the ear of corn. Cover and let the corn steam and slightly char as it cooks. Add a few glugs of water if it seems too dry, and the corn is not steaming. Cook the corn for about 7-9 minutes. Remove from skillet. Add green beans to skillet and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt. Blanche on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat and assemble salad.

Cut corn, in chunks, off of the cob. Toss with green beans and place on a bed of lettuce.
Sprinkle bacon bits over the vegetables. Spoon the buttermilk-dill dressing over the salad. Dig in.

Serves 2

3/4 cup Buttermilk (lowfat is fine to use)
1-2 Green Onions, sliced thinly
a few sprigs of Fresh Dillweed, finely chopped to make 2 T.
1 T. fresh Lemon Juice
2 T. Hellman’s or Duke’s Mayonnaise (more, if you want fuller bodied dressing)
Sea Salt
a few grindings of Black Pepper

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add more lemon for tartness, or more mayo for fuller body. Taste for salt and pepper. Refrigerate. Flavors will develop over time, (although the dressing is good right away, too.) and the dressing will keep, covered, for about a week.

Makes 1 cup


Posted in Gluten Free, Recipes, Salads, Sauces, Vegetables

40 Responses to “Ray’s Green Beans, with bacon, corn, buttermilk and dill”
  1. Nancy Says:

    The first time I tried fresh buttermilk dressing was at Abbatoir in Atlanta, and it blew my mind. I must make this once corn and green beans get to the markets here – gorgeous! The bacon is the perfect finishing touch.

  2. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Nancy, I’ve heard great things about Abbatoir—lucky you to have eaten there!

  3. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    I just love the way you live, Nancy. This looks scrumptious.

  4. blackbookkitchendiaries Says:

    wow! this look very tempting! love buttermilk and corn… just heavenly!!

  5. Kath Says:

    Yet another of your posts that I love. I also love the annual rituals of the garden and there is nothing like freshly picked veg to make me very happy. I love the sound of this salad and I must try this dressing. I have not heard of ranch dressing before and I have not used buttermilk in a dressing before either, so a new one to me. I am off to look at Denise’s almond cake that you mentioned.

  6. Michele Napoli Says:

    How proud Ray must be to see you turn his just-picked green beans into such a feast. I can almost taste those savory flavor combinations.

  7. My Little Expat Kitchen Says:

    Oh, I LOVE this salad Nancy and that first photograph is so fetching. I rarely crave a salad this much. I feel like I can steal a crunchy piece of bacon. May I? :)

  8. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Denise–thank you!

    Kath-I guess that “ranch” is one of those American phenomena that, like many things, started out as something fresh and delicious and over time morphed into something strange and chemical. but at its heart, buttermilk makes a terrific base for a dressing.

    Michele–thanks–Ray is a really great gardener, and neighbor!

    Magda–dig in. that thick-cut bacon is delish!

  9. Maggie Says:

    Nance, this looks marvelous!! And I’m jealous of Ray! My green beans are just coming up!!

  10. goodfoodmatters Says:

    My beans are just up, too. As long as the neighborhood bunny doesn’t eat all the emerging leaves, we’ll have green and yellow wax beans by the end of July.

  11. heather Says:


  12. Patsy Says:

    You had me at BACON!

    ALL of your salad dressings merit the copious praise they get from our clients at Second Harvest!

    Lovely photos too –

  13. Tracy Says:

    Seriously. I love the smell and feel of garden warmth. It came through this post beautifully. You have such the magic touch.

  14. Linda Says:

    Mmmm . . . your salad looks great! I’m a confirmed ranch dressing hater, but maybe I have never had the real thing. I’ll give it a try. My “allotment” will go into your recipe for dinner.

  15. Joyti Says:

    It sounds absolutely delicious! And fresh green beans – lucky you!

  16. Katarina Says:

    Good God that looks incredibly good!

  17. Barbara Says:

    Nancy, what a perfect salad! So many lovely fresh veggies and bacon besides! The buttermilk dressing is perfect. I plan to use that on a lot of things.

  18. Faith Says:

    Wow, I don’t know what I love most about this beautiful salad — the corn, those pretty grean beans, or that creamy dressing! Looks like the perfect summer salad!

  19. Karen Says:

    These are the best looking green beans I have ever seen! So fresh and slender, I bet they are every bit as tasty as they are beautiful. And your salad with this wonderful summery buttermilk dressing does these beans more than justice – it looks superb! I completely agree with you, Nancy about the bottled dressings. Haven’t used them in years, because they are awful in every way. Can’t wait to try your ranch dressing!

  20. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    Oh my gosh- this southern foodie is in love! How amazing is this dish and yet so simple and full of flavor. I can’t wait to give it a try- my dad would especially go crazy for it. I mean- come on- it has bacon? Let’s all say BACON together! Enough said! Just found your blog- so glad I did! Will be visiting often!

  21. kristy Says:

    Nancy, I love the addition of bacon. It does work very well and flavour up the whole dish instantly. Thanks for sharing. Hope you’re having a great day.
    Blessings, Kristy

  22. Aarthi Says:

    This looks yummy….you have a lovely blog…I am having a giveaway in my blog..Y dont you check and join that

  23. Tammy Says:

    Gorgeous! I am unable to eat a salad dressing from a bottle and therefore love anytime that anyone shows me how. Bacon is my secret weapon in getting kids to eat veggies.

  24. rhonda Says:

    I love how you take simple ingredients and words and combine them all to create such beautiful dishes and prose. The pictures are beautiful….thanks for this inspiring blog! Can’t wait for technology to create taste bytes! ;-)

  25. Madeleine Says:

    Can I have some? Next week maybe?

  26. Cakewhiz Says:

    I like ranch dressing and if you are saying this dill dressing tastes better than that, i look forward to trying it. Your salad looks beautiful with all those veggies.

  27. sonia Says:

    Hi There, This is looking Gorgeous. A very well made post with beautiful pictures. Loved the new combo of ingredients and the recipe is so nicely made and presented. Its always fun to see ur appetizing recipes.Saving this recipe of urs and wud love to give ur version a try on the coming weekend. Have a great day….Sonia !!!

  28. Nicole Says:

    This salad looks so wonderful. I have a lot of the ingredients on hand. I am normally too lazy to make dressing but you’ve sold me on trying the buttermilk dressing! Lovely blog.

  29. Anna Johnston Says:

    Brilliant choice to use these wonderful ingredients Nancy, the photos really show up your gorgeous summer foods – Oh for the sun & warmth (she says shivering away in the land down under of Oz). I’m sure I’m practically getting my vitamins just by your recipe & pictures, it looks so healthy & delicious. OK Anna…, enough drooling!!!!

  30. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Cakewhiz–you’ll be amazed!

    Welcome Sonia, Aarthi, Nichole, and Jessica–thanks for visiting! hope to catch up with you on your blogs very soon.

    Anna–I know, here we are with the flip-flop of seasons–as hot as it is today, its so hard to think of you shivering cold, down under!

  31. Linda Says:

    Gorgeous summer salad! I love the cut of the corn off the cobs; really great photos. The dressing looks spoon-licking good!!

  32. FOODESSA Says:

    My last recollection of bottled dressing was on a camping trip and quite possibly on another occasion…I’m truly not a fan…especially when homemade delights like your dressing can be whipped up so deliciously.
    Nancy, I’ve never made this style of dressing…I’ve bookmarked it and will get tasted during my summer salad preps for sure ;o)

    Ciao for now and have a great week,

  33. Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily Says:

    love love love the home made dressing. This is a great summer salad, I’m def putting this on my menu list this week! So glad I found your site.

  34. Kelli Says:

    I loved the “Praise for Ray’s Beans” post last summer and am thrilled to see another great recipe for his beans this year. Thank you again for sharing!

  35. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thanks for remembering, Kelli! Ray’s beans are pure inspiration! Who knows what next year will bring? This one set the bar pretty high!

  36. Teresa/foodonfifth.com Says:

    I love anything with Buttermilk. Especially really good local buttermilk and this dressing recipe is a new one to try. I also remember Ray’s Beans from last year and you continue to make Ray’s Beans look fab.

  37. ernestine lawson Says:

    Oh my
    I have all the ingredients
    and this is how I will prepare
    those green beans for the 4th.
    I am so glad I found you :)

  38. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Making this right now. Just placed my buttermilk dressing in the refrigerator to let the flavors develop. I used my own homegrown dill. Fresh dill is a favorite scent. Thanks for this inspiration, Nancy.

  39. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Wonderful—I hope you and Chris will enjoy this.

  40. Good Food Matters » Blog Archive » Community Salad Says:

    […] lemon cucumber? I grew those in my garden patch. The impossibly thin green beans were a gift from neighbor Ray. I purchased the onions and baby new potatoes from Barnes’ stand at the downtown […]

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