Italian Green Bean Salad is a delicious and light side dish that pairs very well with many other Italian dishes. It's also a great alternative to a regular lettuce-based salad, if you're getting bored of those.
This recipe for Italian Green Bean Salad is so simple, you can read the recipe once and make it for years to come. Below I've also included a quick summary on how to blanch vegetables.
What is Italian Green Bean Salad?
Italian Green Bean Salad is a cold string bean salad that usually contains some combination of green beans (I call them string beans, does anyone else say that?) and onions in some kind of vinaigrette. Beyond these three items, additional ingredients vary.
My Italian Green Bean Salad contains string beans, red onion, and toasted walnuts in an Italian Red wine Vinaigrette.
How to Make it
Trim the Green Beans
Remove and discard the ends, then cut the string beans in half, so you have two halves that are 1-2 inches long.
Soak the Red Onions in the Red Wine Vinaigrette
I like to dice my red onion and make the dressing before doing anything else. This is because the red onion should have time to soak in the seasoned red wine vinegar and olive oil mixture before dressing the string beans.
A red onion-infused vinaigrette is so flavorful, and can be used to dress many cold salads such as pasta salad, and my Beet and Farro Salad with Grapefruit Dressing. The onions flavor the dressing, the dressing flavors the onions, and it's a win-win situation.
Toast the Walnuts
Not every Italian Green Bean Salad calls for walnuts. However, I find finely chopped toasted walnuts to be an excellent addition to many salads, for a couple reasons.
- Toasting the walnuts brings out more of their nutty flavor, making the entire salad more flavorful.
- Finely chopped walnuts bind the oniony vinaigrette to the green beans, instead of the dressing all seeping to the bottom of the bowl. I firmly believe that all vinaigrette-dressed salads require some type of binding factor. If you're allergic to nuts, finely grated parmesan cheese would work well.
Blanch the Green Beans
Blanching is a cooking method in which you quickly boil the food item, and then transfer it to an ice bath to stop it from overcooking. This is an excellent way to cook fibrous green vegetables, such as broccoli, string beans, snap peas, and broccoli rabe, for a few reasons.
- Blanching is quick. It only takes a few minutes, depending on the vegetable. String beans take about 3 minutes in boiling water.
- The vegetable cooks and softens slightly, without losing its bite. No mushy string beans, please!
- An immediate dip in the ice bath preserves the vegetable's bright green color. No brown string beans either!
Another On the Bias recipe that involves blanching is my Lemon Shrimp Risotto with Peas, if you're looking for more blanching practice.
Dry the Green Beans After Blanching
It's important to thoroughly strain the green beans and pat them after blanching. Wet string beans will water down the delicious vinaigrette you made.
Put the Nuts in The Green Bean Salad and Dress it all up
The final step is to combine all the elements: The dried green beans, walnuts, and vinaigrette. Always taste for seasoning. Sometimes I add a splash more vinegar and a pinch of salt at the last minute.
What to serve with Italian Green Bean SaladPrint
A delicious dressing, finely chopped nuts, and quickly blanching green beans are the keys to a good Italian Green Bean Salad.
- 1 lb green beans, ends removed, cut in half.
- ½ cup of walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
- ⅓ cup red onion, diced
- ⅛ cup red wine vinegar
- ⅛ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Prepare the dressing. Use a whisk to combine red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a large pinch of salt. Then add the diced onions to the dressing and set it aside.
- Wash and dry the string beans, trim off both ends, then cut the them in half. Set them aside.
- Toast the walnuts, then finely chop them and set them aside as well.
- At this point the water should be boiling. Fill a large bowl half way with ice water and leave it next to the pot. Boil the string beans for 3 minutes, then use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer them directly from the pot to the ice bath. Drain well and pat dry. (See note 1)
- Combine string beans, walnuts, dressing, pinches of salt and pepper in a bowl and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt and a splash more vinegar if needed.
Note 1: If the ice bath quickly warms up when you put the green beans in it, bring the bowl over to the sink and rinse with cold water until green beans are completely cool. Then dry thoroughly.
Keywords: Italian Green Bean Salad, Green Bean Salad, String Bean Salad, Blanching