If there is one vegetable dish I know everyone at the table will eat to excess, it’s this green bean salad. I started making it when my children were toddlers. It was easy for them to pick the green beans with their hands and serve themselves but still had all the grown-up flavor my husband and I enjoy.
I don’t know if my kids liked eating vegetables as finger food or the flavor, but either way they’ve signed on to eating green beans for the duration, and that makes me a happy mama.
WHAT’S IN THIS SALAD
I do my best not to over complicate summer food. I want to be outside, enjoying the weather, not inside over a hot stove or a cutting board. That’s exactly why this salad is just green beans tossed in a quick dressing. No need to be fussy.
Lemon and dill have long been fast friends. The light and bright flavor of the dill is only enhanced by the tart zip of lemon zest and fresh-squeezed juice. I toss in a little minced red onion, olive oil, and Dijon mustard to help balance out the other flavors.
Add the just-blanched beans and stir to coat. Voila! A delicious side is ready to complement the main dish.
HOW TO COOK FRESH GREEN BEANS
The key to this salad and is to blanch the beans, which is basically a quick dunk in boiling water.
You want the beans to be crisp-tender – the raw edge is taken off, but the bean remains sturdy, the color is bright green, and you still need to use your teeth to bite into it. Unlike canned green beans that disintegrate on contact.
Usually, people blanch then shock vegetables in ice water to stop the cooking process and keep the color vibrant, but I’m not shocking anything on a Wednesday night. If I were trying to dress this up for a dinner party, I might take that extra step. Might.
To have beans with texture that holds up in a salad, blanch them for about four minutes, drain them in a colander, rinse them in cold water, and pat them dry with a paper towel.
HOW TO AVOID WATERY, UNDER-SEASONED SALAD
When blanching vegetables for sides or salads it’s easy to overlook the water on the surface of the vegetables. Too much water will dilute the dressing you’re using to jazz up your beans, and you’ll end up with bland vegetables.
To help with this issue, I wait to make the dressing until after I drain the beans. I give beans a couple of good shakes in the colander to make sure I get most of the water off and pat them dry with a paper towel before adding the beans to the bowl with the dressing.
CAN YOU MAKE THIS SALAD IN ADVANCE?
This green bean salad is best eaten the day it’s made, but you can still get a few steps out of the way if you’re planning to serve this to company.
Feel free to wash and trim the green beans and make the lemon-dill dressing one day before you plan to serve it. On the day you need it, set the dressing on the counter while you blanch the beans, then toss everything together and dig in. When the oil in the dressing gets cold from refrigeration, it can clump together a bit, but it thins back out at room temperature.
Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.
OTHER SIMPLE VEGETABLE SIDES
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