French Bean Salad

FRENCH BEANS WITH LEMON & TARRAGON

Evelyn and Myer Rose honeymooned in Biarritz, an adventurous, if not downright daring thing to do in the 1940s. It was the start of a lifelong love affair with France and its food.

Four decades later, they returned to the area to visit the legendary chef and restaurateur, Michel Guérard. A simple salad of lightly cooked haricots verts – freshly picked that morning from his “potager” – bathed in a lemony tarragon and chervil vinaigrette, was a mouthwatering reminder that even the humblest of dishes can be a feast when made with superb ingredients.

You can serve this salad either warm or at room temperature. To turn it into a main course, add some crumbled feta or goats’ cheese and serve with toasted sourdough or whole grain bread.

Serves: 6
Keeps: 2 days in the fridge Do not freeze
Per serving: 59 cals, 6 g carbs

225 g (8 oz) haricots verts or fine beans
225 g (8 oz) trimmed mangetout or sugar snap peas, or a mix of both
2 tbsp blanched almonds, pine nuts, or hazelnuts
1 lemon, unwaxed if possible

For the tarragon vinaigrette
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp hazelnut or walnut oil
2 tbsp snipped fresh tarragon
1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt
15 grinds black pepper

Place a large colander in the sink. Bring a large pan of water to the boil then add a teaspoon of salt and the trimmed beans. Boil for 3 minutes, then add the mangetout or sugar snap peas and boil for 2-3 minutes or until bite-tender. Immediately tip the vegetables into the colander and drench with cold running water, mixing gently until all the vegetables feel cool. Tip them into a bowl of very cold water, leave for 3 minutes to set the colour, then drain.

Toast the nuts by shaking them in an empty frying pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.

Pare 2 strips of zest from the lemon with a vegetable peeler, avoiding the bitter pith just under the fragrant yellow skin, then cut the peel into very thin slivers. Easier still, use a citrus zester, a bar tool with several tiny holes at the end. You’ll need 1 or 2 teaspoons of slivered zest altogether. Set aside.

Put the oils, tarragon and seasonings into a screw-top jar. Juice half of the lemon then add the juice to the jar and shake well.

Transfer the vegetables to a salad bowl. Add the dressing and toss gently. Before serving, sprinkle with the nuts and shredded zest.

JUDI’S TIPS: the vegetables can be cooked the day before and chilled until needed. If you can’t get haricots verts or fine beans, use regular green beans cut in half lengthwise, or string beans cut into diagonal pieces.

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