My dad loves string beans. Or maybe it’s that he doesn’t totally hate them. Growing up, it seemed that this was the one vegetable that was always on the table, no matter the season or the meal. I thought it was because string beans seemed to be the least offensive green thing my parents could get me to eat, but now I know it was the least offensive green thing my father would eat.
The other day my dad came home with a huge bag of string beans from a market stand on the side of the road. “They’re organic!” he said proudly, holding the bulging plastic sack triumphantly as if it were some sort of trophy. It may as well have been—the fact that my dad stopped at this place and actually asked about the produce was a major triumph in my eyes. This called for a celebration!
I really wanted to make something special with the green loot instead of steam them so that my family could slather them with butter and a generous shake of table salt. They needed to be dressed up for a real occasion. One of my favorite herbs, and one that is seldom used in my family, is tarragon.
Tarragon’s flavor is a combination of licorice and basil with a pleasant lemony aftertaste. It goes very well with grilled foods, artichokes, asparagus, and especially mustard. String beans are a perfect backdrop for this aromatic veggie.
I served this salad yesterday at my anniversary brunch, and my whole family gobbled it up, especially my dad. The combination of string beans with some beans thrown in for extra protein and fiber was really satisfying. Dressed in a slightly sweet, zingy dressing with a generous handful of chopped tarragon, the salad was topped with roasted hazelnuts and freshly cracked black pepper to please everyone’s palate. A string-bean makeover was something we all agreed on.
Tarragon String Bean Salad
4 cups green beans
1.5 cups cooked beans (romano, pinto, lima, navy, chickpeas)
1/2 red onion or a few shallots
1 bunch fresh tarragon
½ cup hazelnuts or almonds, toasted
300 grams feta cheese (preferably goat feta)
Freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp strong mustard
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Pinch sea salt
1. Wash and top green beans. Steam for 4 to 5 minutes until crispy (do not over steam!).
2. Make dressing: Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously.
3. When beans are cooked, remove from heat and rinse in cold water. Place in a large bowl and add all other salad ingredients.
4. Toss green bean mixture in dressing; season to taste with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.