Green Bean Salad with Basil, Balsamic, and Parmesan

Do you garden? The first of my green beans are starting to appear. The vines have already grown up the bamboo trellis that lines the side yard fence, and have reached up and over the fence, meaning my neighbor may get as many beans from my plants as I do.

I never know how the beans are going to cook up, even if they are from my own garden. The most important thing to look for when choosing beans at the market is that they snap when you bend them, versus bending like a rubber band. This means they’re fresh. But even if they are fresh, they may still take forever to cook.

I had garden beans last year that still weren’t tender after 20 minutes of boiling. I finally gave up. Ideally, young, fresh green beans should be just cooked after a minute or two. Cooked, but crisp. (If you find yourself with a batch of green beans that are tough and old, and refusing to become tender, save them for cooking in a soup.)


Here’s a tip. Green vegetables when cooked for seven minutes or longer, or exposed to acid like lemon juice or vinegar, will turn a drab olive color. That’s why if you want green beans that stay green, cook them 6 minutes or less, and then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking. If you add vinegar, do so after you’ve coated the beans with oil.

This green bean salad recipe comes via my friend Heidi H in Massachusetts, adapted from a 1992 recipe in Bon Appétit. It combines blanched fresh green beans with lots of fresh basil and grated Parmesan, with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Heidi and her kids love it, and so do we. Enjoy!

Green Bean Salad with Basil, Balsamic, and Parmesan Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6.

To save time, while the water is coming to a boil, prep the other ingredients.



  • 1 1/2 pounds trimmed green beans, cut to 2 to 3 inch long pieces
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion (or shallots)
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1 Place the chopped onions in a small bowl of water. This will help take the edge off the onions. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.

2 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (2 Tbsp salt for 2 quarts of water). Add the green beans to the water and blanch only for about 2 minutes or so, until the beans are just barely cooked through, but still crisp. Fresh young beans should cook quickly. Older, tougher beans may take longer. While the beans are cooking, prepare a large bowl of ice water. When the beans are ready, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the boiling water to the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the green beans and the red onions.

3 Place the green beans, red onion, and chopped basil in a large bowl. Sprinkle in the olive oil, toss to coat. Sprinkle in the balsamic and Parmesan cheese. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Chill until ready to serve.

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  1. Maura @ My Healthy 'Ohana

    Wow, your plants look so healthy!! I’m definitely going to try to grow green beans in Hawaii. Love the combo of basil and balsamic, excited to try it with green beans!

  2. The Steaming Pot

    This looks so delicious and simple to make. I find beans tricky to cook just right, so an extra thanks for the note about cooking time.

  3. Shibi

    Thank you for this recipe and for the tips about green beans. On our eastern slope of Mt. Davidson in SF, we planted bush beans this year (with very low expectations). Well, they are taking off and we will enjoy making your salad very soon! (We are on Kauai right now, visiting… and I’m sharing your recipes with my parents. We made your chicken thighs with honey and dijon last night and the dish was a huge hit!)

  4. Charlene

    Now you’re making me seriously regret not planting green beans this year. Last year I spent as much time picking beetles as I did beans. Dear Girl, you are directly responsible for our renewed appreciation for this humble vegetable. Your Mexican Green Bean Salad is a favorite here. Now, I have to try this one and the Mexican Three Bean Salad I found as a result of this post. I love the tip to toss the beans with oil before adding vinegar. And while I am singing your praises, let me add that your blog has just the right amount of intro and pictures for each recipe.

    Thanks Charlene! ~Elise

  5. ThatCleverClementine

    This sounds delicious, and a bit of a change. I have a bit of asiago left in the fridge — I think I’ll try it with that instead of the parmesan!

  6. Christie

    I refuse to plant beans in the garden until my kids are old enough to pick them! I spent hours as a kid picking beans in my mom’s garden- it only seems fair. Hopefully I can find some fresh beans at the market to try this recipe- I love balsamic and parmesan, how could it go wrong?

  7. Kalyn

    The only thing I don’t like about garden green beans is keeping them picked. Love the sound of this!

  8. Terry

    That green bean salad is delicious, Um Um Um good.

  9. Jason (Gluten Free / Dairy Free NJ)

    Great tip on keeping cooked veggies green. Will be buying fresh green beans this weekend and trying this out (sans parmesan). Thanks!

  10. Lisa

    This looks absolutely wonderful! My basil has done extremely well this season and I have been looking for new recipes to use it. Thank you, as always, for inspiring me to try new things!!

  11. randy

    nice My beans have just started coming in .

  12. Marita

    I got a bunch of Romano beans in my CSA last week and used them in this recipe. I threw in some toasted pine nuts and left out the red onion because I didn’t have any on-hand. The balsamic vinegar made the whole thing look a little muddy, but the taste was delicious. Thanks for a great, easy recipe!

  13. Rheannon

    Wanna know what just took this recipe up another notch of deliciousness? Toasted pine nuts! I threw a few walnuts in, too. ;). Great, fresh recipe!

  14. Emilyn

    I made this with your honey mustard chicken for supper tonight and my family raved about both! I love your website; I’ve haven’t found another that has such consistently great recipes. Thank you for existing. :)

    Thank you for your kind words Emilyn! So glad the recipes worked for you. ~Elise

  15. Jess

    Green beans with balsamic, interesting taste combo I hadn’t thought of. I look forward to trying it.

  16. Chrissy

    I found if I steam the beans from my garden they cook better. Keep the flame on just until they start to “smell” then shut off the flame and let the pot sit unopened for a couple of minutes. This way they don’t overcook. Just open the lid check the snap and if done drain the water.

  17. Jake

    Similar to our Filipino Cusine. We also use beans for cooking. But somehow this recipe is interesting. Want to give it a try.

  18. Christian Gehman

    It’s fun to put a balsamic reduction glaze on the green beans … that said, these days I am beginning to suspect that the “Balsamic” trade may be more than a bit like the olive oil trade — it may be a bit hard to be sure of what you’re getting.

  19. Tammy

    Hi this recipe sounds great, I can’t wait to try it! I am quite the newbie when it comes to cooking anything with balsamic vinegar or anything semi-gourmet ;) Can you recommend a decent vinegar to buy at the grocery store or specialty type store? I read a few articles about the whole aging process and commercial vinegars, and the difference with them, but I guess I wonder if there is one or two that you might recommend for the ‘average’ cook. Or maybe it doesn’t really make that big of a difference?
    Thanks, I enjoy your site tremendously!!

    Hi Tammy, for cooking vinegars, any balsamic will do, don’t go for the fancy ones. But for drizzling over tomatoes or for dipping fresh baked bread, nothing beats a well aged balsamic. They’re pretty pricey though, the older, the more expensive. Those balsamics might cost you $30 to $100 a bottle and you usually can only get them at a specialty store. ~Elise

  20. Sharon

    Hi, my husband and I love blanched green beans and dip in a light soy. so fresh and good for dieting.

  21. Tyra

    My future mother in law made this last night. It was a fantastic addition to dinner! Just printed out the recipe to go into my binder, it is a keeper for sure! Bright, fresh, and tasty… perfect summer time recipe.

  22. Christine

    Got some gorgeous beans and a nice, brand new, sweet red onion from the farmer’s market this morning… add that to the pot of basil I have growing outside…perfection! This was absolutely delicious.

  23. Relene

    Excellent summer salad recipe, we loved it.
    I will also add some roasted walnuts or pine nuts next time. Feta cheese crumbled onto the beans would be yum too.

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