A Texture Compromise: Jamie Oliver’s French Bean Salad

4 Nov

I don’t like crunchy green beans.  No sirree, no green beans almondine for me.

Growing up, I had green beans one of two ways.  Most often, I ate some improvised version of Chinese dry fried green beans served up by Dad as a quick cooking veggie side dish.  The green beans are fried until the skin starts to pucker and brown, rendering them very tender.  On Thanksgiving and Christmas, my non-culinary inclined Mom would prepare Campbell’s green bean casserole, complete with mushy canned French cut green beans.  Mom claims the classic casserole was the first American recipe she learned when she arrived in the US.  Looking back, I suspect that my parents and my child self must have, to some degree, subconsciously associated the consumption of processed foods to cultural assimilation.  Cultural issues aside, my tastebuds were accustomed to all those years of eating softer textured green beans, and retraining myself to enjoy al dente green beans as an adult is proving difficult.

The “in-between” texture of Jamie Oliver’s Good Old French Bean Salad is a happy medium, not quite al dente, definitely not mushy.  Maybe this salad can serve as my training wheels en route to crunchy green bean land.  Or maybe the texture compromise is the perfect balancing act between limp and brittle.  Served hot or cold, the piquant mustard gives these green beans a refreshing wake up call.

I altered the recipe a little to cut down on the amount of olive oil and to incorporate my new favorite condiment, Maille Dijonnaise.

Recipe yields 6 side dish servings

1 lb French beans, rough ends removed
2 tbsp Maille Dijonnaise (or whole grain Dijon mustard)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar (or champagne vinegar)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, peeled and finely chopped
salt and pepper

  • Bring a pot of water large enough to submerge all the beans to a boil.
  • Add in French beans, cover, and let cook 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together Dijonnaise, vinegar, and olive oil in a medium bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Remove one of the beans from the pan to check if it’s cooked. If it holds its shape but is also soft to the bite, it’s perfect. Drain beans in a colander.
  • To serve hot: while the beans are steaming hot, toss them in a large bowl with the chopped shallots and the mustard dressing.  To serve cold: blanch beans in iced water, drain, then toss in large bowl with chopped shallots and mustard dressing.

Nutrition Facts
Per side dish serving
as calculated by Sparkpeople Recipe Calculator

Calories 140 | Fat 12g | Sodium 393 mg
Carbohydrate 8g | Dietary Fiber 3g | Sugars 1g | Protein 2g

Vitamin A 12% | Vitamin C 21%
Vitamin E 7% | Calcium 3% | Iron 5%

2 Responses to “A Texture Compromise: Jamie Oliver’s French Bean Salad”

  1. Hayley 11/04/2010 at 9:21 pm #

    You can gasp or shudder when you read this, but growing up, I would only eat them from the can. In fact, I made my mom put the can in the fridge to get them really cold, then I’d dip them in ketchup. I still don’t care for the crunchiness of “real” green beans, but I’ll take them over other veggies.

  2. Donna 11/05/2010 at 6:29 am #

    I loved them from the can, too. Hell, I still like Campbell’s green bean casserole, somethings you just can’t change 🙂

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