Nests Filled with Summer Salad
Handle these nests very carefully, since they're just as fragile as real birds' nests.
- 3 large squares plain shredded-wheat cereal
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray
- 2 ounces (about 10 beans) green beans, trimmed
- 2 ounces (8 to 10 tomatoes) grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
- 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Gently pull apart shredded wheat into strands and small pieces; transfer to a large bowl. Add flour and Parmesan cheese; season with salt and pepper. Toss. Add melted butter, and toss.
Lightly coat 6 cups of a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cooking spray. Press about 1/4 cup shredded-wheat mixture into each of the 6 cups, pressing up around sides to form a nest. Bake until nests begin to turn golden brown, 8 to 9 minutes. Let cool completely in tin. To unmold, gently twist nests in cups, and then carefully pull up. Nests can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days before you fill them with vegetables.
Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil; add salt. Cook beans until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Drain, and pat dry with paper towels. Cut beans into 1-inch pieces. Transfer to a large bowl. Add tomatoes and mozzarella; toss. The vegetable mixture can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 day.
Just before serving, whisk together vinegar and oil in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Toss vegetable mixture with the vinaigrette. Transfer nests to serving plates. Fill with salad, dividing evenly.