green bean and cherry tomato salad

As soon as the weather gets sweeter outside, I lose all interest in make any elaborate effort in the kitchen. It’s not that I don’t want to make dinner; a girl cannot live on tapas and cocktails at sidewalk restaurants alone, though lord knows I have tried. In the end, I just don’t want to fuss, and with all of the bright, seasonal produce slowly trickling into the markets, there’s no reason to. That’s the real secret of super-fresh food: you don’t need to do a lot to it to make it grand.

tipped and tailed beanshalved grape tomatoesgrape tomatoesgreen beans

I can’t recommend Alice Water’s Chez Panisse Vegetables enough to help you along your way. I mentioned it last month in conjunction with the Pasta with Cauliflower, Walnuts and Feta, but I wasn’t even close to done with it. The preparations are for the most part quite simple, yet every single recipe I’ve tried has embodied a little something-something that I hadn’t done before. I keep it tucked in my desk drawer at work, and feel confident that on that magical day I get to the Greenmarket during lunch, I can get back to the office, look up whatever I grabbed, and be able to cobble together a great dish that is no great time burden, just from the vegetable and some pantry staples.

tossed in the shallot vinaigrette

Of course, this hasn’t happened yet. And, I’m really jumping the gun on both the string beans and the cherry tomatoes here, but they actually looked fantastic at the Gristedes this week and I decided to run with it. I’m glad I did. It allowed me to use the remaining hours of daylight as I wished, taking the long way home, soaking up every speck of sun while it is still mild and the humidity low. I didn’t have to choose between having a simple, healthful dinner and enjoying the weather. Heck, nobody should have to.

green bean and grape tomato salad

One year ago: Barley and Corn Salad with Haricot Vert (I’m always amused to find that the same things were on my mind–green beans–on the same day the year before!)

Green Bean and Cherry Tomato Salad
Adapted from Chez Panisse Vegetables

Serves 6

1 pound green beans, though if you can find a mix of green and yellow beans, it will be all the prettier
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1 large shallot
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Basil or other herb (optional)

Prepare the vegetables: Top and tail the beans and cut them into large segments. Parboil the beans in salted water until just tender, about four to five minutes. Drain and immediately spread them out to cool. Stem the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half.

Make the vinaigrette: Peel and mince the shallot and put it in a bowl with the vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the balance with more vinegar, oil, or salt, as needed. Toss the cherry tomatoes in with the vinaigrette; this can sit for a while. Do not add the green beans until just before serving or they will discolor from the acid in the vinaigrette. For variety, the salad can be garnished with basil or some other fresh herb such as parsley, chervil or hyssop.

Do ahead: Beans and vegetables can be prepared ahead of time. Simply toss with the dressing only at the last minute, as it can discolor the green beans after several hours.

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96 comments on green bean and cherry tomato salad

  1. Sarah

    One year for Thanksgiving, my mom tried out all new recipes. Mix things up away from the traditional family holiday staples. And the results were sort of disappointing. The stuffing wasn’t the same, the rolls were blah. Only one dish turned out fantastic and this was it! And we all use it again and again. And it’s always such a pretty part of any meal.

  2. I love this! it’s like a fresh take on the Lebanese staple Lubiyeh (essentially almost caramelized onions cooked with diced tomatoes and green beans, cooled and served with pita)

  3. I love simple salads like this. I just bookmarked it. I made a similarly easy salad yesterday, but mine came from lots of cans of beans that I had in the pantry. I almost bought tomatoes to put in it but they were still kind of pricey.

  4. I think this looks like a perfect combination of flavors. This is just the sort of thing I love to eat when the fresh tomatoes are in season.

  5. judy gal

    It all started with you…I entered the food blog world with Smitten Kitchen and I have gathered an enormous list of friends/RSSs since then. However, when I travel for pleasure over several days & return home, I have a LONG list of feeds! They are all enjoyable in their own way and I have YOU to thank.
    Yes, thanks… Judy

  6. looks delish and will be a perfect company for those soon to be grill evenings.

    i’m always interested in a new vegetarian coobkook … but your alice water’s amazon link isn’t working :(

    btw, do you use natural light for all your photos? just curious :)

  7. Kim

    I have a few of Alice Water books as I have been a fan of hers for decades. I love her simplicity and the manner in which she cooks and talks about food.
    She could make a piece of toast memorable.
    Your photos are quite lovely btw, always enjoy them.

  8. deb

    The book link is working for me… anyone else having this problem?

    I use natural light when we can, and a Speedlite flash in the evening. Believe it or not, these were taken with flash. I think. I’m actually forgetting now, and the pictures are not cluing me in! There’s much more about our equipment and process over here.

  9. Hmmm, spring in a bowl. I was so thinking this salad would be perfection with a little shellfish and then you offered up the lobster. Maine is a little closer for you then it is for me (Tampa, FL) so I may opt for some freshly caught Diver scallops come the summer.

  10. MMmmmm. Boy does that look good. I wish I ordered that for lunch instead of the pizza I just shoved down my “mildly” hungover throat. Have a great weekend toots!

  11. Yum, this looks so refreshing. And I hear you on wanting to be more outside and less kitchen-bound. Have a wonderful vacation!! Eat lots of good stuff.

  12. I could eat this type of salad every single day and never get bored with it. I’m so happy the weather is changing and the salads are replacing the heavy stews. Yayyy!!!!

  13. alex (lower-cased)

    that’s interesting news about the tomato-shocking. Any idea why the flavor would diminish with the cold-water bath?

  14. samina

    this was oh so yummy, but I felt like it was missing a little something…, I added 2 cloves of minced garlic and it was just what I needed

  15. Becky

    I used balsamic instead of red wine vinegar and added shelled edamame. It was delicious! Thanks for inspiring me with these gorgeous photos!

  16. i recently discovered your very beautiful blog. i know the recipes are delicious, and as an artist i find your photography very inspiring- you have such a great eye for color and composition! thanks!

  17. It’s so exciting isn’t it? I really REALLY needed the fresh spring/summer ingredients to start arriving – for my own sanity! We even have some sun here in London today (big treat). I picked up some Jersey tomatoes the other day too, which saved me waiting for mainland toms and gave me a a taste of summer. Beautiful!

  18. I’ve done something like this sometimes but in a warm version… never tried it cold, so I’ll have to try it out! I used tomato preserve (from my aunts) instead of the fresh tomatoes, and “fried” the tomatos together with the chalotte and pre-boiled green beans.

    Thanks for the ideas and for your great blog and pictures!

  19. Shayna

    I make a similiar green bean salad, with lemon and taragon, this one sounds equally divine! It could use some small fresh mozzarella!!!! I cann’t wait for the farmers markets to begin in Boston.

  20. Elaine

    Believe it or not, if you get tired of this as a salad just throw in a pan and cook it. I’m Greek Orthodox, and we cook this all the time to go with dinners at our festivals. Don’t use the vinegar, use oregano instead of basil and use minced garlic instead of shallots. Most people really love them. You can also substitute lima beans for the green beans. Good even at room temperature.

  21. I’m so glad I found your blog! This salad looks beautiful! I actually made a variation of it quite frequently a couple years ago. Only difference….I used lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar. Love your website! I’m trying your lemon bars tonight!

  22. Wow! This looks amazing! And what a healthy way to fill up a summer plate. With some marinated grilled chicken this would be a great summer meal. I’m definitely adding the ingredients to my shopping list right now.

  23. I knew I recognized this dish. It’s my husband’s.
    He created it a long time ago for his resturant in Portland, OR. Well, the resturant he was the Ex Chef at. A patron loved it so much, they wrote Bon Apetit way back in 1998 and asked for the recipe. It was published then. Although it should be Sherry Vinegar. It’s one of his “old hats” so he never makes it anymore. That’s why I couldn’t place where I knew it from.

  24. AJ

    Just made this last night as a base for a grilled steak salad that also called for cherry tomatoes and green beans; wow — really, really good.

  25. elaine

    i thinly sliced and carmalized a red onion and through it over top this salad, and substituted red wine vinegar with a good balsamic. it knocked it out of the ball park

  26. Vivian

    Need some help… Would it adversely affect the flavor of this dish if I were to use something other than red wine vinegar? I don’t have any in the the house and really, really don’t want to have to buy something that I might not use up. I do have citrus champagne vinegar, Paul Newman’s balsamic vinegar (although this bottle has been a very long time and has not been in the ‘fridge), plain old white vinegar, and of course fresh lemons…

    Thanks for the advice—would hate to wreck my beautiful green beans and cherry tomatoes and fresh basil . . .

  27. This was fantastic! I made it for my guy friends the other day, and it was polished off with a fervor I’ve never seen from my normal carnivore friends. I added some feta to it, and it was great! Posted it on my blog.

  28. wjb

    I made this for company last night, and it was just wonderful. So much greater than the sum of its parts. Thanks for another winner, Deb.

  29. Amber

    I made this for a potluck and tossed in some fresh corn kernels, and a few tiny sprigs of basil. I had three requests for the recipe! I’m sending my friends your way – I know they won’t be disappointed. Thanks for the delicious recipes!

  30. We’ve been deluged with cherry tomatoes; I’ve roasted, grilled, tossed in couscous or other grain salads…and this was by far the greatest hit of the summer. Even my picky 6 year old liked them. Thank you!

  31. Rebecca

    This is an unbelievable salad. I have made it so many times. Without fail someone asks me for the recipe. In order to make a nice thick dressing I add the oil to the food processor while the machine is running. A thick dressing without the added calories. Thanks so much

  32. Which Jennifer

    I made this last night with balsamic instead of red wine vinegar, and I added a few carmelized red onions. No one really cared for it except for me. The green beans were a little too raw, the balsamic vinegar overwhelming. But I’m not giving up on the recipe. I think next time I’ll cook the green beans a bit more (didn’t set the timer, so I have no idea how long they in boiling water), use either red wine vinegar or lemon/lime juice, and nix the red onions completely.

  33. Carrie Watters

    I know it’s a bit late in the game and all, but I just made this last night and it was delicious! Perfect summertime salad, that had a nice zing to it. I went with some fresh basil and a bit of lemon juice plus the salt and pepper, and will definitely be making this again. Thank you!

  34. Mary

    I made this last night for the first time, and we loved it. I’m eating the leftovers for lunch as I type – :) – and it is even more delicious. I used Trader Joe’s white balsamic vinegar, so the color is still beautiful. As pretty to look at as it is yummy to eat!

  35. Sheryll

    This is indeed a perfect salad when I need something quick and easy. It is simple to put together last minute, looks beautiful, and is delicious and fresh tasting.

  36. My word! So good. I used a combination of yellow and green beans, and lacking cherry tomatoes, cut a few local beefsteaks into chunks. Thanks very much.

  37. Que

    I love this salad!!!! My aunt actually introduced me to it….and we add pepper Jack cheese… gives it an extra kick….

  38. Brook

    Has anyone made this with lemon juice instead of the vinegar? My bf can’t have vinegar and I’m thinking of using lemon juice instead.

  39. Caroline B

    Jenna (1st comment), no I think ‘if you can find’ is correct, as it really can be difficult to find yellow beans in many places. Unless you live somewhere with a great selection of vegetable stories/markets, or grow your own, you might be stuck with the regular green fine beans.
    This recipe is basically what we ate as a side dish at practically every evening meal in France when I was a teenager. Sometimes with chopped boiled eggs, sometimes with celery, but always the base of wonderful sweet juicy tomatoes, shallots, vinegar, oil and chopped parsley. I especially enjoyed it with a rare steak as all the juices would mingle, and we mopped these up with slightly dried out bread left over from the morning. Sometimes we ate the salade with lobsters and/or crevettes we caught ourselves by leaving pots out for the tide. We lived on the beach, only 200m from the house so it made sense to catch food from the sea.
    We finished the meals with soft, overripe peaches, from age frais and runny Camembert…. The peaches came in large crates, they were so cheap!

  40. I made this tomato salad recipe for our dinner tonight. So so good! Thanks for this great recipe. I am trying to be creative with salad and love recipes like this…Easy and colorful.

  41. Andrea

    I’ve made this so many times, and I love it, as do most to whom I’ve served it! My favorite herb to use in it is tarragon, and I add some, minced, both to the dressing and to the green beans and tomatoes themselves. Also, for me, usually this keeps pretty well in the fridge for a couple of days, so I’ve stopped waiting until the
    last minute to add the dressing to the beans :) In fact, I just made a double batch to take to a 4th of July picnic today! Thanks for another great recipe! Happy 4th!!

  42. Kimberly

    Great salad – was very popular at a BBQ dinner last night. I am going to try Andrea’s suggestion and add some tarragon next time. I let the tomatoes sit in the dressing at room temperature for a few hours which I think actually made the salad better.

  43. Big Bomb

    DIJON. Light hand on some Dijon makes all the difference in this. I’m surprised it’s not on the recipe, I swear it’s on one of these floating around the net.

  44. Adrian

    I came across this recipe while growing one of my first greenbean crops. It is just delicious and very popular and became a pot-luck/barbecue staple. I definitely find a variety of colors of tomatoes makes it more fun. Haven’t tried yellow beans yet. I do like using the best long and skinny wax beans for the look, and leave the pieces a little longer than pictured. I add a dash of white balsamic to the mix for that special flavor, and use white wine vinegar. One thing that’s great about it is how creative you can be, and yet always simple.

  45. Sudie

    Made this to go along with some soft boiled eggs and potatoes boiled in garlic and peppercorns, and it was the kind of lunch I could eat every day without tiring of it.

  46. This is a beautiful dish for Christmas parties. Light, colorful, delicious. Especially nice for work parties, easy to commute, doesn’t need heating up or staying cold. I have had numerous compliments on this dish.

  47. Marisa

    Perfect for summer vegetables on a day when I didn’t feel like cooking! I didn’t have any shallots, but put a dab of Dijon mustard in the dressing, and it still tasted great. Also added boiled red potato chunks and some canned tuna to turn it into a heartier meal for lunch. Delicious! Thanks, Deb!