This is a bewitching green salad from Yotam Ottolenghi’s wildly popular cookbook Jerusalem. It’s a bean salad brought to life with an earthy dressing of crispy garlic, capers, coriander and cumin, and freshened with a handful of chervil, tarragon and some lemon zest. It’s a unique Mediterranean-hopping salad that’s buzzing with flavour!
Ottolenghi’s Green Bean Salad
I’m a self-confessed Ottolenghi tragic (who isn’t??). His gift and passion for imagining original vegetable dishes with eclectic influences that are vibrant, nourishing, exciting and beautiful to the eye all at once, is inspired.
This is a recipe adapted from a green bean salad in his popular cookbook Jerusalem. In classic Ottolenghi style, it’s a salad that brings together an unlikely combination of ingredients that nevertheless just works so well together:
A distinctly Eastern Med / Middle Eastern-inflected dressing made by sizzling cumin and coriander seeds in oil along with thinly sliced garlic until the garlic turns to crispy and golden chips;
A hint of the Mediterranean with a sprinkle of capers providing welcome tanginess and addictive salty pops; and
An unmistakably nod to French cooking through a good handful of fresh chervil and tarragon.
What you need for this Green Bean Salad
Here’s what you need to make this:
Green beans – Ottolenghi’s recipe calls for a mix of green and yellow beans, for colour life. For simple ease and accessibility, I typically just make this with green beans only;
Chervil and tarragon (lots!) – Two big players in this salad that make it so memorable and gives it a uniquely French touch! These herbs grow abundantly in my garden which is one reason why I’ve been making this salad so often. However, if they are not so accessible to you, try one of these combinations instead (different flavour profile but they work just as well and bring a similar feel):
Option 1: 1/2 cup roughly chopped coriander plus 1/4 cup chopped dill (ie. chop first, then measure)
Option 2: 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley + 1/4 cup roughly chopped coriander + 1/4 cup chopped dill;
Red capsicum / bell peppers – These add a terrific splash of colour in this otherwise very green salad!
Coriander and cumin seeds – Spices that add a distinctly Eastern Mediterranean / Middle Eastern flavour to the dressing. Don’t skip them!
Garlic – Finely sliced and cooked until golden so you get little crunchy bits throughout the salad. They also infuse garlic flavour into the dressing oil;
Capers – For some welcome briny tanginess;
Green onion – A good amount of finely sliced green onion introduces another fresh element in this salad; and
Lemon – Because salad, lemon! Just the zest, 2 teaspoons. Enough for a hint of subtle flavour.
How to make Ottolenghi’s Green Bean Salad
This is a salad that can be served either warm or at room temperature. It keeps well overnight too, but be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving.
Cook beans – You can cook the beans either by boiling or steaming, your choice. But cook them only until just cooked (3 minutes if you boil them). You want them so they are cooked through but not boiled to death. Overcooked beans are grey, limp and lifeless (and stripped of all nutrition and flavour!);
Drain and dry – Drain, then run under cold tap water to stop them cooking further. People with a steady supply of ice can plunge them in a bowl of ice cold water to speed this up. Otherwise cold tap water works just fine. Drain well, and dry using one of these methods: leave them out for a while, spread out on a tea towel or pat them dry.
Let the beans cool down until just slightly warm, or to room temperature;
Cook capsicum – Ottolenghi and I differ here on approach. He opts to just oven bake the capsicum strips until softened. I prefer to sauté them over high heat in a cast iron skillet so you get a bit of colour (the charred spots are the best!). Because as I always say, colour = flavour! Add these to the bowl with the beans and let them cool for 5 minutes;
Golden garlic dressing – For the dressing, heat the oil in a little skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Put the garlic in first and cook it for 20 seconds;
Finish dressing – Then add the capers and cook for 15 seconds. Add the cumin and coriander seeds, and cook for a further 15 seconds or until the garlic is golden and crispy;
Douse and sizzle! Immediately remove the skillet from the stove and pour the dressing over the beans. Enjoy the theatrics of the sizzle!
Toss well – Toss immediately while the dressing it hot. Toss well to coat all the beans in that lovely garlicky dressing!
Add fresh herbs – And finally, add the green onion and fresh herbs, and toss again. Serve immediately, or keep up to overnight!
As I mentioned earlier, the reason I’m sharing this salad is because I love the originality of the flavour combination that is unique yet also has such universal appeal. I’m telling you, everybody loves this salad!
All credit to Ottolenghi, I doubt I would have ever come up with such an wicked combination myself.
What to serve with this green bean salad
Though the obvious thought would be to serve things with all things Middle Eastern, its eclectic character means it’s a salad that I think is just as at home alongside many Western / European dishes too.
For Middle Eastern options, serve it with Chicken or Lamb Shawarma, or with koftas. For something a little different, try putting on a spread of interesting salads for lunch with friends – great for catering for vegetarians especially. This Green Bean Salad with, say, a Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Yogurt Dressing, a Greek Marinated Chickpea Salad and some flatbreads or crusty bread would delightful.
But this is a salad that’s also interesting enough to stand on its own two feet and be the star in a meal. Try it with a simple piece of pan fried fish or baked chicken breast. Have it alongside grilled pork chops or a simple yet grand-looking whole baked herb-stuffed fish. Ooh yes! That would be a terrific combination! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Ottolenghi’s Green Bean Salad
- 500g/ 1 lb green beans , trimmed (Note 1)
- 4 green onions , finely sliced
- 2 cups chervil leaves (Note 2 other herb options)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped tarragon leaves (Note 2 other herb options)
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 red capsicum / bell peppers , cut into 0.5cm / 0.2″ strips
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves , finely sliced
- 3 tbsp capers , rinsed and patted dry
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- Cook beans: Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add beans, bring back up to the boil, then cook for 3 minutes.
- Drain and dry: Drain, rinse under cold running tap water to cool. Shake off excess water well, then pat dry. Transfer to bowl.
- Blister capsicum: Heat oil in a heavy based skillet over high heat until smoking. Add capsicum with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every now and then, until tender-crisp with some nice charred edges. Transfer bowl with beans, allow to cool to room temperature.
- Dressing: Heat oil in a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 20 seconds. Add capers and cook for 15 seconds. Add cumin and coriander seeds. Cook until garlic is golden, then immediately pour over the beans.
- Toss and serve: Add green onion, herbs, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Toss well. Serve immediately, though it keeps really well overnight too (make sure to serve at room temp).
- Option 1: 1/2 cup roughly chopped coriander plus 1/4 cup chopped dill (ie chop first, then measure)
- Option 2: 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley + 1/4 cup roughly chopped coriander + 1/4 cup chopped dill
Life of Dozer
The doggie door at the place I’m renting is a little too small for Mr Dozer….😂