Green Bean Salad with Basil, Balsamic, and Parmesan

Is your garden overflowing with green beans? Whip up this green bean salad recipe with basil, Parmesan, and balsamic vinegar for a great summer side dish.

Side view of green bean salad in a serving bowl with plates behind it.
Michelle Becker

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.

How to Choose Green Beans

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.)

Green Bean Salad on a platter.
Michelle Becker

The Best Way to Cook Green Beans

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.

My Easy Green Bean Recipe

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!

Side view of three plates of green bean salad.
Michelle Becker
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Watch This Green Bean Salad Recipe

Swaps and Substitutions

You can easily customize this highly versatile salad according to your own tastes or what's coming up in your garden. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Herbs: Try parsley, cilantro, or mint in addition to or instead of basil.
  • Cheese: Crumble feta over the salad in place of Parmesan.
  • Toppings: Dress it up with other toppings, such as halved cherry tomatoes, toasted nuts (e.g., walnuts, pine nuts, slivered almonds), and chopped hard-boiled eggs.

How to Store Green Bean Salad

Refrigerate your salad in an airtight container for up to 5 days. In fact, this is one that tastes even better after a day in the fridge.

More Easy Green Bean Recipes

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Green Bean Salad with Basil, Balsamic, and Parmesan

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 6 servings

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

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 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin 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 the onions:

    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.

    Chopped red onion in a bowl of liquid to make a green bean salad recipe.
    Michelle Becker
  2. Blanch the green beans:

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (2 tablespoons of 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.

    A slotted spoon with blanched green beans to make green bean salad.
    Michelle Becker
  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.

    Blanched green beans in a bowl of ice for a green bean salad recipe.
    Michelle Becker
  4. Toss with red onion, balsamic, and 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.

    Side view of green bean salad in a serving bowl.
    Michelle Becker
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
164 Calories
11g Fat
13g Carbs
5g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 164
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 15%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 6mg 2%
Sodium 228mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 5g
Vitamin C 13mg 65%
Calcium 127mg 10%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 236mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.