Know someone who takes a hard pass on anything green? This is the gateway salad that will turn them — trust us. Tender-crisp green beans take a tumble with a bright, lemony blonde ale dressing and then are topped with salty fried hazelnuts, sweet dates and herby basil. Get ready to witness the start of a love affair with green vegetables.
450 g fresh French green beans (or a mix of fresh green, yellow and/or purple beans), topped and tailed (see tips)
1/4 cup (60 mL) very thinly sliced red onion
2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice
2 tbsp (30 mL) blonde ale
1 tsp (5 mL) salt (approx), divided
3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
3 tbsp (45 mL) hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 tsp (4 mL) lemon zest (approx)
3 tbsp (45 mL) thinly sliced soft dates, such as Medjool, Deglet Noor or other Middle Eastern variety
3 tbsp (45 mL) thinly sliced basil
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook beans until tender-crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer to a large bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain beans again and pat dry. Refrigerate until ready to use.
In a small bowl, combine onion, lemon juice, ale and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Let stand for 15 minutes at room temperature. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a small bowl; strain onion, reserving marinating liquid. Set both aside.
Meanwhile, in a small pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add hazelnuts and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) of the remaining salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until nuts are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a small bowl; remove pot from heat and immediately strain nuts, reserving oil. Let cool slightly.
To reserved oil, add 1-1/2 tbsp (22.5 mL) of the reserved marinating liquid (discard any remainder), the lemon zest and remaining 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) salt. Whisk to blend.
In a large serving bowl, toss beans with half of the dressing until coated (save remainder for another use). Add reserved onions, reserved nuts, dates and basil. Gently toss to combine. Taste and season with more salt and/or lemon zest, if desired. Serve immediately.
Topping and tailing simply means cutting off the stem and the little curled tail at the bottom so you have nice, long beans with cleanly cut ends.
The dressing will keep at room temperature for up to 1 day or in the fridge for up to 3 days. Use the remainder on other salad greens (like arugula), or steamed or grilled vegetables (such as broccoli). You can also toss it with pasta or grains for a hearty side, or use it as a dip for bread.
The rest of the salad components (except the basil) can be made or prepped up to 1 day ahead. Refrigerate them in separate airtight containers and toss them together when you’re ready to eat. The only exception is the dates — you can keep those at room temperature — and the salad dressing, which will last even longer in the fridge.
It won’t give you as pretty a salad, but you can achieve the maximum bean-to-topping ratio in each bite if you halve the beans crosswise before cooking them.