Fourth of July

Picnic Perfect Haricots Verts / Green Bean Salad (f/k/a Haricots Verts à la Dijonnaise)

May 28, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 3 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I initially called this salad "à la Dijonnaise" because the quartet of ingredients that sets the dressing apart -- lemon zest, honey, mustard and anise seed -- are combined in the pain d'épices that M.F.K. Fisher describes in an essay about living in Dijon. Rounded out with olive oil and garlic, the combination makes quite a nice salad dressing. It goes well with the simple, straightforward flavors of haricots verts, heirloom cherry tomatoes and cucumbers, which Igive a bit of crunch to the salad. If you can't get haricots verts, use small, slender string beans. I recommend that you grind the anise seeds with the garlic, as it transforms the flavor of both. If you don't have roasted garlic, and like raw garlic in your salad dressings, then by all means use it. The egg yolk in this is a polite nod to the traditional French recipe for mustard and lemon sauce for green beans which, frankly, inspired this dressing in the first place. I've included in the notes below alternate instructions for making this ahead, to take on a picnic. Enjoy!! - AntoniaJames —AntoniaJames

Test Kitchen Notes

As aargersi, who first tested this recipe as an Editors' Pick, put it: "AntoniaJames is a master at layering flavors so that everything sings together and there is no one pushy soloist." We couldn't have said it better ourselves. This is the ultimate clean, crisp salad for a picnic (no wilting here), with summer's best produce -- perky haricots verts, sweet cherry tomatoes, and crunchy Persian cucumber -- accented by measured doses of anise, honey and tarragon. The dressing is enriched with hard-boiled egg yolk and roasted garlic -- two festive ingredients that make it special but still safe for a sunny day. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound haricots verts (some call them "French beans")
  • 2 small organic Persian cucumbers (See note below.)
  • Kosher salt for sprinkling over the cucumbers
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar
  • Yolk of one hard boiled egg
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or more to taste), warmed
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 medium cloves of roasted garlic (See note below.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seed
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 or 14 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a very small dish, combine the shallot and vinegar.
  2. Finely dice the cucumbers (leaving the peels on, if they are organic). Put them in the bowl in which you plan to make the salad. Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mash the yolk of the hard boiled egg with the back of a small fork, then add the honey, the lemon zest, the lemon juice, and the mustard. Beat well to combine, and to get out whatever lumps of egg yolk you can, without too much difficulty.
  4. In a heavy mortar, crush the anise seed with the roasted garlic and a pinch of salt and grind to a smooth paste. Add to the egg yolk and lemon mixture; add the olive oil and whisk to combine.
  5. Trim the beans, then steam or blanch them to the degree of tenderness you like best. I find that 3-4 minutes in a pot of salted boiling water does the trick nicely. Drain and immerse the beans in a basin of ice water when they're done, to prevent further cooking. Drain and shake off any excess water.
  6. Drain any accumulated liquid from the bowl with the cucumbers. Add the cherry tomatoes and the beans.
  7. Drain the vinegar from the shallots into the bowl with the other dressing ingredients. Mix the dressing well and add to the salad, along with the shallots.
  8. Gently toss. Test for salt and add more, if necessary. Add freshly ground black or white pepper, to taste. Sprinkle on the parsley.
  9. Enjoy!! ;o)
  10. NB: If taking this on a picnic, or making it ahead for a potluck, block party, etc., remember that the acids in the dressing and the cherry tomatoes will discolor the green beans if added too far in advance. So, instead of adding the tomatoes with the cucumbers and beans, and then tossing with the dressing, drop the cut tomatoes in a medium sized jar with the dressing. Put the shallots and vinegar in that jar too, instead of on the salad. So, in essence, you'll combine the cucumbers and the string beans in one container, and just before you're ready to serve, toss with the dressing, cherry tomatoes and shallots. The juices from the tomatoes, by the way, when mixed with the other dressing ingredients, make it quite tasty. ;o)
  11. I find raw garlic to be a bit harsh, so I usually have roasted garlic on hand. (I put two or three cloves, unpeeled, on the baking sheet any time I roast vegetables, or in a ramekin when I'm baking bread.) If you need to roast some, put however much you want in an ovenproof dish and roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until just soft. (It will start to bubble a bit and smell fragrant) This can take ten to twenty minutes -- or longer, I suppose -- depending on how hot your oven is, and the size of the garlic cloves.
  12. Note about cucumbers: If you can't get organic Persian cucumbers, use an English or other seedless cucumber. Peel it if it's not organic or if the skin is thick. You'll need about a cup and a half of chopped cucumber.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • essbee
  • anna karina
    anna karina
  • jude
  • bugbitten
  • Jaynerly

Recipe by: AntoniaJames

See problem, solve problem. Ask questions; question answers. Disrupt, with kindness, courtesy and respect. ;o)

73 Reviews

amp156 September 17, 2014
I've always made a version of this dish that was similar, though tried this recipe. I just didn't use the anise and tarragon vinegar since I had those flavors in another side. I loved this version and it will be my new staple as it received rave reviews. I especially liked adding the cooked yolk to the dressing, which I had never heard of prior.
AntoniaJames September 17, 2014
Thank you, amp156. So glad you liked it! ;o)
essbee September 13, 2013
I recognize this may sound absurd, but I cannot find tarragon vinegar where I live.

Sherry vinegar? White wine vinegar? Sprite?
bugbitten September 13, 2013
Or just stay with the lemon juice already in there.
AntoniaJames September 14, 2013
I'd use white wine vinegar. That's a good default, for just about any purpose. But all lemon juice would work, too, as bugbitten suggests. ;o)
essbee September 14, 2013
Thank you, both. I appreciate the quick responses.
anna K. July 17, 2013
Just got this ready for lunch today! can´t wait to try it!!! It smells fantastic!
jude May 28, 2013
absolutely delicious., great picnic salad. everyone loved it. thanks.
bugbitten July 7, 2012
Hi, I doubled your recipe to bring to an Independence Day pot luck, which included a lot of picky eaters. When asked why I had chosen this dish, I had the opportunity of reminding everyone that France was the true, first ally of our nation.

All gone, I proudly took home an empty bowl. Thank you.
Jaynerly July 11, 2011
Congratulations on your win! I look forward to trying this delicous salad when my "French beans" have grown!
creamtea July 8, 2011
Congratulations on your win. This sounds delicious. My family are string-bean fans, it's great to have a new way to prepare them.
Oui, C. July 8, 2011
Congrats AntoniaJames - I've got some HV in my fridge that are getting this treatment tonight....lucky beans. - S
SKK July 6, 2011
Great recipe! Well deserved reward - will be fixing this recipe this week-end.
WinnieAb July 6, 2011
Congrats AntoniaJames! Can't wait to try your fabulous salad :)
EmilyNunn July 6, 2011
Congratulations, Antonia! Love this, and must try soon. Save.
mrslarkin July 6, 2011
Hooray AJ! Congrats to you on a lovely winner!
MyCommunalTable July 6, 2011
Congrats to you! Well deserved.
BlueKaleRoad July 6, 2011
Congratulations! I love your dressing ingredients and look forward to trying this salad. I think it will become a summer staple.
AntoniaJames July 6, 2011
Thank you, BKR! I actually posted the dressing recipe separately last year, shortly after I created this recipe, because I found it to be so versatile with our summer salads. Instead of using a hard-cooked egg yolk, I use creme fraiche and fruity olive oil. As you can see from the photo, I make it in my mortar and pestle. Here is the link:
BlueKaleRoad July 9, 2011
Thank you for the dressing recipe link! It looks delicious and I love that you make it in your mortar and pestle. I'll do the same. :)
AntoniaJames July 6, 2011
Thank you so much, everyone. This is such an honor, especially when I look at all the recipes that you, and the other extremely talented and imaginative cooks in our midst here, submitted. And hats off to MeghanVK for her simple, elegant cucumber and melon salad, which is just as deserving for inclusion in the book. My heartfelt gratitude to all of you for your kind words and for your inspiration and encouragement. I love this community. ;o)
Summer O. July 6, 2011
Congratulations to you!
Panfusine July 6, 2011
CONGRATULATIONS!!! well deserved, your recipes are classics!
drbabs July 6, 2011
HUGE congratulations!
em-i-lis July 6, 2011
Kayb July 6, 2011
Congrats, and this sounds wonderful!