Who says a bean salad has to be a side dish? I made this wonderful make-ahead salad for dinner last night, and the grilled pork chop that accompanied it was more or less an afterthought. Although the recipe I based it on says that it serves six, for us it was the star of the meal, making two healthy portions with one serving left over. In fact, that’s going to be my dinner tonight just as soon I finish writing this!
This bean salad is one of my go-to ‘bring a dish’ recipes, and it easily expands to feed a crowd. You can serve it cold or at room temperature, which enhances its versatility, and its olive oil-based vinaigrette makes it more safely portable in hot weather than a mayonnaise or dairy-based dressing.
The Culinary Enthusiast was most enthusiastic (how apt!) about all aspects of this salad, and what’s not to love? The buttery beans still have a bit of crispness to them, the tomatoes are juicy and the slivers of shallot have had their bite mellowed by bathing in the dressing, which is itself subtly tangy. Unfortunately I forgot to put the basil in this batch, but I’ve used it many times before and it imparts it own special, herbaceous flavour.
By the way, I wrote about this dish last summer before I made the blog publicly available. We were at the cottage at the time and I could only find yellow beans at the market. I think you’ll see from the photos on that post that the salad is much more attractive when two colours of beans are used; the combination of green, yellow and red is quite appealing. In fact, it’s as pretty to look at as it is good to eat!
Green & Yellow Bean Salad with Cherry Tomatoes
Adapted from Bon Appétit magazine, June 2000. They describe this dish as “colourful, refreshing and delicious,” and I agree on all counts!
- 3/4 pound green beans, trimmed*
- 3/4 pound yellow beans, trimmed*
- a handful or two of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 shallot, cut in half and then sliced thinly (or half a small red onion)
- small handful of basil leaves, chiffonaded
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1-1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp sugar (optional)
- freshly ground pepper to taste
* I like to keep the beans their full length with their little curlicue tails adding a whimsical air to the dish.
Cook the beans in a large pot of boiling water with a good tablespoon of salt until tender crisp (four to five minutes; best to check at four minutes!). Drain, rinse with cold water and immerse in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. I put the colander into a very large bowl of ice water for this, so I don’t have to pick ice cubes out of the beans. As soon as they are cooled through, drain thoroughly. (If you don’t plan to use them right away, you can pat the beans dry, wrap them in paper towels and seal in a plastic bag to store in the refrigerator for up to one day.)
Combine the oil and vinegar (plus sugar, if using) in the bottom of a large serving bowl, and toss in the shallots and basil. Whisk well with a fork and add the tomatoes as you halve them. Grind in pepper to taste, stir again and then add the beans. Toss everything together until all the beans are coated with the dressing and the tomatoes, basil and shallots are happily intermingled among the beans. Cover and chill for at least an hour and up to four hours, tossing occasionally. Serve the salad cold or at room temperature.