Green beans and walnuts are a classic pairing. The earthy nuttiness of the walnuts contrasts beautifully with sweet, barely-cooked beans, bathed in a tangy vinaigrette. I love including green beans in many of my menus to provide a nice pop of colour on the plate. This dish is great because you can make it an hour or so ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about overcooking the beans while you are working on any last minute kitchen preparations. I’ve played around quite a lot with this salad; it’s equally yummy with crumbled blue cheese or feta; feel free to toss in some dried cranberries or diced dried apricots too!
1 pound (454 grams) fresh green beans
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
few grinds freshly ground pepper
4 teaspoons good quality olive oil
2 tablespoons very finely sliced red onion
½ cup walnut pieces
½ cup crumbled chèvre
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- Trim stem ends of green beans.
- Wash beans and put in a steamer basket. Steam over boiling water for 3 – 4 minutes until just tender.
- Rinse beans under cold water, tumbling them with your hands, until they all feel cool to the touch.
- Lay drained beans on a clean dish towel and roll up gently to absorb moisture.
- Unroll beans, put on a cutting board and cut in half crosswise.
- Put cut, dried beans in a serving bowl just slightly larger than the pile of beans. Cover and keep at room temperature until ready to assemble salad.
- Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally (should take 3 – 5 minutes). Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. As soon as they are fragrant and just beginning to brown, transfer them to a small bowl so they will stop cooking.
- Make the vinaigrette by putting the salt in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Add the vinegar and lemon juice and stir until the salt is dissolved. (Note that it’s important to add the salt in the beginning as it won’t dissolve once the olive oil is added).
- Add the Dijon and pepper; whisk to combine. Add the olive oil, then put the lid on the jar and shake it vigorously until the vinaigrette is smooth and emulsified.
- Up to one hour before serving, drizzle the dressing over the beans and toss gently. Sprinkle the red onion over the beans and toss again, being sure to distribute any dressing that has accumulated at the bottom of the bowl.
- Add the parsley, chèvre and walnuts to the salad and serve.
Makes 4 – 6 servings.