Monday, April 5, 2010

A Monstrously Good Salad

I may have created a monster.  This is what happened: 

My family came to visit this weekend, and brought with them several bags of Trader Joe's goodies.  Happiness!  Among those things was a bag of haricots verts, yummy skinny green beans (pre-trimmed!), and a box of cherry tomatoes.  On Saturday, after a long walk around town and on the beach, and a quick visit to the Whaling Museum, we were hungry for lunch, but it was already 2 o'clock, and I didn't want to eat anything that would spoil my appetite for what I knew would be a delicious dinner at Centre Street Bistro, where we had 7 o'clock reservations. (Dinner was fantastic, by the way.)  My dad suggested we use the green beans, so working with what we had in the house, I boiled the green beans, sliced some of the cherry tomatoes, and tossed them with a simple mustard-y dressing with just a hint of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Meanwhile my mother soft(ish) boiled two eggs, which she peeled and sliced, and tossed on top of the green beans and tomatoes.  Instant success!  My dad loved the salad so much that he insisted we make it again for Easter breakfast/brunch, so we did, and had it alongside scrambled eggs and bacon, and chocolate cake (another post for another time).  Unconventional, but delicious.  Erik had the green bean salad for the first time on Easter, and liked it so much that today he called me at work, and asked if it would be okay if he made it again for dinner!  I said yes, and so tonight we had it again alongside delicious spicy turkey burgers with grilled red onion, avocado slices, and pepperjack cheese.  Slightly unconventional yet again, but you see, this simple combo is so yummy that we'll eat it with just about anything!  Erik hadn't seen me make the salad the first two time, so his take was slightly different : he used apple cider vinegar instead of balsamic and tossed in a minced shallot.  These little changes were delicious, and I couldn't say which version I like better.  But either way, this quick salad is a winner, on its own or alongside any unconventional thing you can think of.

UPDATE:  I have received several questions about the egg issue: what constitutes soft boiled, and if it's soft, does the yolk mix into the dressing?  For the past three days when we've made this salad, the egg topping has been slightly different.  When my mom made the eggs, the yolks were not completely set, but were not runny, either.  The yolks mixed in a bit, but I wouldn't say they coated the beans.  On Easter I lost track of time and ended up hard boiling the egg, so when the egg was sliced and tossed into the salad the yolk chunks sort of distributed themselves.  Erik's egg was somewhere between those two.  If I make this salad once or twice more I will probably cover all points along the egg-boiling spectrum!  Personally, I hate runny yolks, so I always want them to set up at least a bit.  However, if you like runny yolks, by all means, just cook your egg until your whites are set and the yolks are still liquid-y enough to coat the beans along with the dressing.  I'm pretty sure there is no wrong way to do this, and I'd love to hear from anyone who tries the runny yolk method to hear how it is!

Although I didn't take pictures, my mom captured this image on her iPhone.  
The huge hand belongs to my dad.

Impromptu Green Bean Salad
Serves as many as you like, just scale accordingly

* Haricot Verts or regular green beans, ends trimmed
* Grape or Cherry tomatoes, halved
* Minced shallot (optional)
* Good Dijon mustard
* Balsamic or Apple Cider vinegar
* 1 or 2 soft or hard boiled eggs

1. Prepare your eggs:  I like the Julia Child method, which is to cover the eggs with water, bring to a boil, then remove from the heat, cover the pan, and let sit 17 minutes (for a hard boiled egg), then transfer to an ice bath until the eggs are cool enough to peel and slice.  I haven't experimented with the perfect length of time for a soft-er boiled egg, and I'm simply too lazy right now to go downstairs and find out if the cookbook says what it is, so let's guess that it's maybe 10 minutes? 12 minutes?  Who knows?  I ended up overcooking the egg the second time around, and the salad was still delish.

2. Bring a larger pot of water to a boil, add salt, and then boil the green beans until they are about 90% cooked.  Drain and refill the pan with very cold water and a handful of ice cubes to stop the cooking process.  (It's always best to pull the beans off the stove just before they're finished, because they always cook just a tiny bit more before you get them in the ice bath.)

3.  In the bottom of your serving dish of choice, mix together equal parts mustard and vinegar.  When they are combined, slowly add about the same amount of EVOO.  The dressing here should be a bit thicker than regular salad dressing.  Taste, adjust components if necessary, and season liberally with freshly ground black pepper, and salt, if desired.

4.  Wash and halve cherry tomatoes and add to the serving bowl. 

5. When green beans have cooled, pat them dry(ish), cut them in half, and toss in with the tomatoes.  Add minced shallot, if using, and toss all together.

6.  Slice eggs and add to the salad, and toss once more just to incorporate the eggs.  Serve and enjoy!

Luckily for me, tonight's salad used the last of the green beans, and Erik promises that we won't make it tomorrow (but then added a moment later that haricot verts are on sale at the Stop n Shop right now :)  While three days in a row might be my limit, I know this is one simple salad I will return to again and again (and again and again...)


  1. I saw Barbara had the same question as I do: if the eggs are soft boiled, are they meant to mix in with the other ingredients, all gooey like? You mentioned slicing the eggs, which would indicate they were a little more solid than soft boiled. Let me know how you prefer it, looking forward to adding this into my spring meal rotation :)

  2. PS - this recipe needs a tag so I can bookmark it

  3. delicious. I've been eating this all summer and haven't gotten sick of it yet!

  4. Loved it! I made it for a pot luck dinner and it needed to be a little fancier. So I plated it on a white rectangular platter, did not cut the beans (they looked elegant, whole and long on the platter), pretossed (lightly) the ingredients with a little dressing (bringing the remaining dressing for those who wanted more), hard cooked and sliced the eggs and placed them on top (did not toss in). It was a big hit!