When slim French green beans known as haricots verts are tossed in a basil vinaigrette, they make a versatile first course that can be either dressed up with the ingredients in this recipe or served as is.
Make Ahead: All components except the bacon can be prepared and refrigerated a day in advance.
- For the vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, chopped (1 tablespoon)
- For the salad
- 10 ounces haricots verts (French green beans), trimmed
- 6 ounces spring mix or mesclun greens
- 3 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
- 2 strips crisped (cooked) bacon, cut into small pieces (1/4 cup)
- 2 large hard-cooked eggs, grated (see NOTE)
For the vinaigrette: Combine the basil, salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, mustard, oil and shallot in the bowl of a mini food processor; puree for 1 minute, until an emulsion forms. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Stir vigorously before using.
For the salad: Fill a large bowl with ice water.
Bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the haricots verts; cook for 4 minutes, until slightly crunchy, or 5 minutes, until tender and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beans to the ice-water bath until cooled, then drain and blot dry on paper towels.
Place the beans in a medium bowl and add half of the vinaigrette; toss to coat evenly, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 1 day in advance).
When ready to serve, place the spring mix or mesclun greens in a large bowl. Add the remaining vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly. Add the beans, crumbled cheese, bacon pieces and hard-cooked egg. Divide among individual plates or serve on a platter.
VARIATION: For a more substantial first course, place two large pieces of smoked salmon or prosciutto on individual plates. Top with a small handful of greens tossed in the vinaigrette, a neat stack of dressed haricots verts and a garnish of chopped or grated egg for the salmon, shaved Parmesan cheese for the prosciutto and a lemon wedge for both.
NOTE: To hard-cook eggs, place eggs in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover them by an inch or two. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain and cover with cold water until the eggs are cool enough to peel.
From columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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