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When I’m in the kitchen, I take the idea of a salad and transpose it to any vegetable or fruit that may be in season. And while we traditionally of a salad as mostly composed of lettuce, there are endless ingredients that can be the base of a “salad.” I find it’s easy to get into a routine with vegetables, so instead of doing what I always do, I love to create new, unique ways to enjoy them.
For my mom and me, our favorite green bean to grow is the Jade variety. We love the perfect beans that are produced as well as the impressive yield. From late July all the way until the first frost, they typically produce beans… probably more than can be used. We can beans, pickle dill beans, even fry beans, and I love to make a fresh salad with them.
I classify this as a salad because I love it at room temperature or cold. In either case, this uses the best of the summer from fresh beans to ripe tomatoes. Balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs, and feta cheese round out the flavors for what I’ll call a perfect summer salad.
What makes this a salad?
Wait, there is no lettuce, spinach, or any other leafy green in this recipe? Yup, and this is exactly where routines have made us complacent. A salad can be any cooked or raw vegetable, so beans are a terrific main component of this salad. Since beans are pretty simple, the process is as well:
- First, they’re cooked in a small amount of water.
- Next, they gain some color from a quick sauté in olive oil.
- Finally, they’re finished with balsamic vinegar to create a rough vinaigrette.
The herbs and tomatoes provide additional flavor and heartiness. It’s a nice finish for a full salad that can be a side dish or the main meal.
Can you substitute frozen for fresh green beans?
Good question. Recipes can be adaptable and have various alternatives. This recipe, however, needs to use fresh green beans that have not been frozen. Why? The texture of fresh green beans is a key component of the recipe. The beans are cooked to a crisp-tender stage and then lightly sautéed for flavor. Frozen beans would have a softer texture and would not hold up as well with the other ingredients in the salad.
Watch how to make this green bean salad
Fresh Green Bean & Tomato Salad
- ½ medium onion chopped
- 1 ½ lb green beans
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 ½ lb tomatoes chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup loosely packed basil
- 2 sprigs oregano (leaves only)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 oz feta cheese crumbled
- Place the beans and onion in a 12 to 14-inch skillet. Add ½ cup water, cover, and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the beans are crisp-tender, 5-7 minutes.
- Drain off any remaining water and add olive oil, salt, and pepper. Sauté, tossing frequently until the beans begin to brown, 4-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Toss and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and pour the salad and any sauce on a large platter. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve or chill for up to 2 days. Before serving, top with fresh basil, oregano, and feta.