Green beans always bring back memories of sitting next to my Gram-gram with a colander on my lap and one on hers, between us an empty bowl and a larger bowl filled with fresh green beans. While watching her favorite soap opera we would snap the ends off the beans, peel the strings, and then break them in half; the ends and strings would go in the colanders to be chicken feed for the next morning, the split beans into the empty bowl for cooking later.
The beans are also called string beans because there is a distinct fiber that runs the length of the bean. The commercially-grown green bean’s string isn’t as fibrous as it used to be because it’s been bred out of the beans. If you grow them yourself you will find a string present that you have to remove. Trying to chew through that string is not fun. That is why you ‘snap’ the ends off, cut the bean in half so you can remove the string easier. My mother always used scissors to cut the ends off, and then broke the beans in half with her hands. The reason why she used her hands for breaking is if the bean bent without breaking it was most likely dehydrated and not good for cooking. Neat trick, huh?
Green beans also come in yellow and purple, and have different varietals depending if you want to grow a bush or have a climbing vine. For this recipe I use Blue Lake green beans (they aren’t blue!) since they are the most common ones out there on the market. You can either serve this salad warm or cold. My mother developed this salad for our events because we could make it the day or two days before and it will taste just fine.
Sesame Green Bean Salad
- 2 pounds of Blue Lake green beans -- ends removed and halved
- 1/4 cup of sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup of shallots -- diced finely
- 1/4 cup of sesame oil
- 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup of basil coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
- Step 1 In a large pot bring six cups of water to a rolling boil.
- Step 2 Add green beans to water.
- Step 3 Remove beans when they turn bright green.
- Step 4 Drain, rinse and put into serving bowl.
- Step 5 While beans are cooking, put the sesame seeds in a small ungreased frying pan and slowly roast over the lowest heat possible. Continue to stir seeds … don’t leave the room because they will burn the moment you aren’t looking. After about five to eight minutes you should start seeing them turn color … when half have turned color remove from heat and let cool in pan.
- Step 6 When pan is cool, mix seeds in with the beans.
- Step 7 Using the same pan heat up the oil and sauté the shallots in the oil. When shallots are translucent add oil and shallots to beans.
- Step 8 Add basil, vinegar and salt to beans and toss all ingredients together until well mixed.
- Step 9 Serve.