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Green Bean Salad with Toasted Almonds & Feta

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I didn’t intend to eat Green Bean Salad for dinner last night, but it happened. I’ve learned a new trick to cooking them that yields tender-but-not-waterlogged (and definitely not mushy) green beans. I tossed my perfectly cooked green beans in a lemony sauce with savory toasted almonds, creamy and salty feta, and fresh basil.

I couldn’t stop myself, not that I wanted to. Who am I? This is coming from a girl who used to refuse her grandmother’s home-grown green beans as a kid.

I got the inspiration for this recipe from Sarah’s Instagram account (I love her stories). She shared a few snaps of a green bean salad with feta, and it looked so summery and delicious. I should have just asked for her recipe, but instead I took the more difficult route and created my own version.

I borrowed the cooking technique from America’s Test Kitchen. Instead of simmering the green beans in water, you cook them in a skillet, covered with a small amount of water, then uncover, raise the heat, and cook until it has evaporated. You end up with green bean salad with a lot more flavor than the watery, simmered variety. Try it!

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This green bean salad is the best! Perfectly cooked green beans are tossed in a lemony dressing with toasted almonds, feta and basil. Recipe yields 4 side servings.

INGREDIENTS

  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 to 3” long pieces
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 small-to-medium clove garlic
  • Several twists of freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
  • 3 to 4 large basil leaves, torn or chopped, for garnish
  • Lemon zest from about ½ lemon, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Start with a large skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring frequently (careful, they burn quickly). After 3 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue stirring until they are fragrant and turning golden on the edges, about 1 to 3 more minutes. Transfer the almonds to a bowl to cool.
  2. Make sure the heat is set to medium-low and place the skillet back on the heat. Immediately add the green beans, water and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are nearly tender, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the lid, raise heat to medium-high, and cook until the liquid evaporates, 2 to 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, black pepper, red pepper flakes and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
  4. Once the green beans are done cooking, whisk the olive oil mixture once more, then pour it into the skillet. Pour the almonds back into the skillet, and add about half of the feta, reserving the other half for garnish. Toss to combine, then taste and add more lemon juice or black pepper if necessary.
  5. Transfer the green beans to a serving bowl or platter. Sprinkle the remaining feta and the torn basil leaves on top. Lightly grate some lemon zest on top, and serve promptly.

NOTES

MAKE IT DAIRY FREE/VEGAN: Omit the feta cheese, and replace it with an equivalent amount of Kalamata olives (pitted and thinly sliced) and/or sun-dried tomatoes (the oil-packed variety, rinsed and drained).

MAKE IT NUT FREE: I haven’t tried, but I think this recipe would be good with toasted sunflower seeds instead of the almonds.

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