I call this salad "à la Dijonnaise" because the quartet of ingredients that sets this one apart -- lemon zest, honey, mustard and anise seed -- are combined in the pain d'épices that M.F.K. Fisher describes in one of her essays about living in Dijon. Rounded out with olive oil and garlic, the combination makes a delightful salad dressing. It's perfect with the simple, straightforward flavors of haricots verts, heirloom cherry tomatoes and cucumbers (which I add to give a bit of crunch to the salad). If you can't get haricots verts, use small, slender Blue Lake or similar string beans. I highly recommend that you grind the anise seeds with the garlic, as it simply transforms the flavor of both.And 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 is where the idea for this dressing actually started. 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
- Serves 4
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
- In a very small dish, combine the shallot and vinegar.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Trim the beans, then steam or blanche them to the degree of tenderness you like best.Plunge them into a basin of ice water when they're done, to prevent further cooking. Drain and shake off any excess water.
- Drain from the bowl with the cucumbers the water that has accumulated there. Add the cherry tomatoes and the beans.
- 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.
- Gently toss. Test for salt and add more, if necessary. Add freshly ground black or white pepper, to taste. Sprinkle on the parsley.
- 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, once combined with the other dressing ingredients, will make it really tasty. ;o)
- 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.
- 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.