I am happy to say that I have always gotten along remarkably well with my parents.  Sure, there was the incident when I dumped an entire pitcher of juice on the kitchen floor while having a tantrum; or that time I actually peed myself in front of the people we were staying with to get back at my mom for making me go ski when I didn’t want to; or the not infrequent occasions when I “ran away” to the neighbor’s back yard, always remembering to pack my favorite Christmas ornament and a snack…But, by the time I made it to late childhood, we had managed to work out a pretty peaceable situation.  I mean, during my teen years I never even told them I hated them or accused them of trying to ruin my life (unlike some recalcitrant brothers I know of ;) )!

At this point in my life, I’ve come to recognize that, though imperfect, my parents are pretty darn awesome and have gotten a lot of things figured out.  I feel very thankful to have them to talk to when I need a little wise counsel.   Yet I have discovered that we still have a major point of contention.  My parents, in spite of their many fine qualities, like their green beans waaaaaay over cooked.  They’ll even admit that the way they like their beans is over cooked.  I guess there’s something admirable about being able to say, “this is the way I like my beans, and I don’t care if it’s totally wrong and gross,” but whenever I have to eat them, I find it hard to appreciate this attitude.  When I cook my own green beans, I go for barely steamed, still slightly crisp.  It brings out their emerald hue, and their summery sweetness.

We’ve been scoring hefty loads of green beans in our farm share lately.  And, while I usually like to cook and eat green beans hot with a little butter (delicious simplicity itself), it’s still so darn hot and sticky out there (I’ve decided that it feels like we’re stuck inside of a toasted marshmallow) that I’m eating as many things as possible in their cold forms.  This yields green bean salad, that summer barbecue classic.  As far as I can tell from extremely non-extensive research, a truly classic green bean salad has lightly steamed and chilled green beans, cherry tomatoes, and a vinaigrette.  Another option that I love making has green beans, sun dried tomatoes, olives, feta and vinaigrette.  But, for our barbecue on Sunday I didn’t have any of these gustatory niceties.  I had green beans, green onions, and a lemon (thankfully I wasn’t in charge of the main dish, just a single side dish and a pie – mercy me, baking a pie in that heat!  I’m glad I lived to tell the tale.)  As such, I made a green bean salad with a lemony dressing.  Makes sense, eh?  I have no idea what it was anymore, but I had just seen something that had a lemon and tarragon dressing, so I decided sprinkle a bit of tarragon into the dressing.

The sweet barely licorice-y hint of the tarragon melts into the lemon tang, and they make a brightly refreshing dressing for the beans.  Just a sprinkle of fresh parmesan on top completes the dish beautifully.  Obviously this makes a nice side dish for a barbecue, picnic, or really any summer meal.  If you chopped the beans into 1-inch chunks, used some extra cheese, and tossed it with cooked and cooled quinoa or black lentils, it could be a light main dish.  But, beware, you may also find yourself just snacking on the beans, like you would fries.  They work surprisingly well as a finger food!

Green Bean Salad with Lemon-tarragon Dressing (serves 8 )

  • 2 lbs. green beans, washed and destemmed
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced (only the light green and white portions)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil (also, if you happen to have gone on a truffle product bender after making truffled potato pancakes and therefore have white truffle oil around, add a splash of that too.  Really.  Try it!)
  • a pinch of sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. tarragon
  • a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan (or feta would be lovely too)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the green beans and cook until they are just barely steamed, 3-4 minutes.  Drain the beans and run some cold water over them to stop the cooking.  Put the beans in the fridge to cool. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, salt, sugar, tarragon, and green onion.  Whisk in the olive oil (and truffle oil if you’re using some).  Toss the green beans with the dressing and serve.
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