Green beans are one of the easiest and most successful crops that we grow – they even typically give us two harvests, and plenty at a time so we can have enough to feed a family of four. Please see our post Growing Green Beans – All Season Long! for more information on growing this great veggie in South Florida.
I sometimes search for a new way to prepare green beans besides my go-to-favorite of simply steaming and dressing them with butter, salt and pepper – and a little dill if I have it on hand. While this is never boring – can anything beat lightly steamed and crispy green beans freshly picked from the garden? – it’s always nice to change it up now and again. I wanted to try a cold salad, and though not typically a big fan of canned beans, I’ve been hankering for a three bean salad lately and it is green bean harvest time… I opted to combine the fresh green beans (again, lightly steamed to perfection) to go along with canned kidney beans and then, to add a nice contrast in texture, shape and color: chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). This worked really well.
Going heavy on the dill and lemon flavors is what made this salad, which my family loved. A lemony vinaigrette is probably my favorite dressing for a cold salad, and of course dill and beans are a natural together. I have to confess that the dill in our garden isn’t giving us the flavor it used to, so I used some store bought fresh dill. (I’ve also ditched our old dill seeds and planted some newly purchased ones, so we’ll see whether or not the issue was the old seeds.)
I have found that when making a dressing, it’s best to chop and add the herbs right into the dressing mix, reserving a bit for fresh garnish. That way the herbs get incorporated very well not only in flavor but in an even volume throughout the veggies. Another rule of thumb I’ve learned to follow is that dressing should be well over-seasoned before mixing it into the salad – it should taste just a bit too salty, too acidic, too spicy, etc. because the salad will absorb and mute those flavors. And it’s so much easier to mix salt, etc. in when it’s in your liquid dressing. I always taste the salad right before serving, and inevitably find I must add more of the acid (vinegar or lime, etc.) as it needs that fresh “pop”!
A note on raw onions: I don’t particularly like them in salads unless they are muted in flavor ahead of time. I do this by soaking them in rice vinegar in the fridge and then rinsing them – it makes them much milder and a nice addition then to a salad, at least to my liking. I have a friend who simply puts them in the freezer for a short while soaking in water and she is happy with the results of that.
I have seen feta cheese added to a three bean salad, but my family (who loves feta) voted not to have it as the salad was great on its own. So adding feta is another option…
Hope you’ll try this really refreshing salad and different way to use those green beans!
Set up a vegetable steamer. When the water is boiling, add the green beans and cook until just slightly tender and still crisp. Immerse the beans in an ice bath to stop the cooking and drain.
If desired (to minimize the raw onion taste), put the finely chopped red onion in a bowl covered with the vinegar and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to soak. Drain and rinse.
Mix together 2 Tb of the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Slowly stream the olive oil into the mixture and whisk to emulsify. Add most of the dill and stir well to combine.
In a large bowl, combine the onion, green beans, kidney and garbanzo beans. Add half of the dressing and stir to combine; continue to add more dressing to your liking. Taste for lemon flavor and add remaining lemon if desired, as well as salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining dill on top to garnish and serve either chilled or at room temperature.
This salad keeps well refrigerated for a few days, may need "freshening up" with more lemon juice.