Green Bean Salad with Basil, Balsamic, and Parmesan

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

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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.

Green Bean Salad with Basil and Parmesan

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

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  • 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.

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

Method

1 Soak chopped onions in water: 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 Blanch the green beans: 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.

3 Shock in ice water: 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.

4 Toss with red onion, balsamic, Parmesan: 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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Green Bean Salad with Basil and Parmesan

Showing 4 of 15 Comments

  • Mare

    I just made this lovely recipe using our homegrown trionfo violetto pole beans and basil. I can’t wait to serve it to the guests at our BBQ today! Thank you for posting it!

  • 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.
    Relene

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sharon

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

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