French Bean Salad is the sort of dish I wish I would eat when I’m home alone for dinner. Instead, my solo dining habits combine a third of a bottle of wine, leftover Brussels sprouts, a baby wheel of goat cheese, and cold cherry crisp eaten directly in front of the refrigerator.
Rereading my single-lady meal plan, I’m semi-comforted by the fact that most food groups are represented. I also wonder if I’ll ever become a fully functional adult, capable of caring for other human beings.
While cheese, crisp, and booze make for a nice enough evening, these odd dinners leave me feeling full but not satisfied. What I need on solo nights (and for lunch and maybe even for breakfast, because I’m that obsessed with this recipe right now) is French Bean Salad. It’s bursting with the flavors of the French Riviera, ideal for summer, and best of all, leaves me feeling filled and happy.
French Bean Salad is my shortcut, budget-friendly take on the classic salad Niçoise, a salad that originated in Nice but is wildly popular throughout France. Salad Niçoise is composed of tomatoes, tuna, anchovies, olives, and hard boiled eggs. Lettuce is optional (but common), as are other mix-ins such as rice, green beans, or potatoes. It was one of my favorite lunches during our trip to France, and I’ve been craving it since we’ve been home.
I swapped the tuna and anchovies typically used for salad Niçoise for white beans. No hard feelings to the fish—I find it’s simply harder (and more expensive) to find great-tasting anchovies in the U.S. Also, although I like anchovies, I admit that they are not the most popular food in the pantry. Anchovies out, it made sense to drop the tuna and substitute an easy ingredient that I love and always have on hand: white beans.
As a bonus, with the white bean swap, vegetarians and anchovy skeptics can now jump aboard the salad Niçoise train, a very very tasty place to be.
French Bean Salad is ideal for summer, because it rocks out some of the season’s best veggies: green beans; tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes because they are adorable and yummy, but any sliced tomato will do nicely); and cool cucumbers. Fresh parsley brings the salad to life.
The vinaigrette I used for French Bean Salad is my go-to salad dressing. A quick mix of Dijon mustard, lemon, shallots, and olive oil, it comes together in less time than I spend making toast and tastes fabulous on everything from vegetables, to bruschetta, to hard boiled eggs.
Speaking of hard boiled eggs, the labor of love to peel them is more than worth the creaminess and extra protein satisfaction they bring to French Bean Salad. Please don’t skip them. Also, the yolks are so pretty!
Bright summer veggies, zippy fresh dressing, creamy eggs, hearty white beans, and salty olives unite. French Bean Salad is a taste of the Riviera, brought to your dining room table!
Oh, that cherry crisp I casually mentioned eating right of the refrigerator? Not a figment of my imagination. It’s a crisp-topping lover’s dream and is coming to a blog near you verrrry soon. Stay tuned!
French Bean Salad
For the Salad:
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 6 ounces green beans (ends trimmed)
- 4 ounces mixed greens
- 6 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved if large
- 1 small cucumber seeded, and diced
- 1/3 cup small black olives or halved large olives, pitted
- 7 ounces white beans such as cannellini, rinsed and drained
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf or curly parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Hard boil the eggs: In a small pot, bring just enough water to cover the eggs to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and gently lower the eggs in with a slotted spoon. Bring water to a low, rumbling boil, then let cook for 9 minutes. A few minutes before the eggs are finished cooking, prepare an ice bath. Remove the eggs from the boiling water and plunge into the cold water. Let rest a few minutes, then tap the eggs with back of a spoon to crack them (this will make peeling easier). Return to the ice water to cool completely, then peel and cut into wedges.
- Blanch the green beans: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then drop in green beans. Boil until bright green and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drop the cooked beans into an ice bath to shock the green beans and stop the cooking (for ease, empty then refill the ice bath used for the eggs). Drain and set aside.
- Prepare the dressing: Whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, shallot, and salt. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil. (Alternatively, you can shake all of the dressing ingredients together in a tightly-sealed mason jar.)
- Place the salad greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and green beans in a large salad bowl and toss with the desired amount of dressing, reserving some to drizzle on at the end (any extra dressing can be reserved for a later time). Scatter white beans and olives over the top, then arrange eggs around the sides. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and sprinkle with parsley and black pepper.
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