This is a great make ahead side dish for any kind of roast dinner and is a welcome change to the traditional green bean casserole served on Thanksgiving Day. The zip of mint in the vinaigrette is refreshing and enhances the vibrant green color of the beans. The vinaigrette is made the day before, which allows the dried cranberries to plump up and absorb all the other aromatic flavors. The beans can also be prepared the day before, making this a quick and easy dish to pull together on the day. As this salad is served at room temperature it’s perfect to take along to any Holiday meal or potluck party!
Recipe adapted from version by Diane Morgan for Bon Appetit magazine (November 2010)
3 tablespoons finely minced shallots
4 tablespoons Sherry Wine Vinegar
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/3 cup Dried Cranberries
1 1/2 pounds trimmed Green Beans
1/2 cup Walnuts
1. Vinaigrette: In a small mixing bowl add the minced shallots, pour over Sherry Wine Vinegar and leave for 5 minutes (this softens the sharpness of raw shallots). Then whisk in all other vinaigrette ingredients, cover the bowl and place in refrigerator overnight to allow the cranberries to plump up and absorb all the flavors. Before serving: bring the vinaigrette to room temperature before combining with other salad ingredients. If you are pressed for time, the vinaigrette can be mixed and set aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld nicely.
2. Green Beans : Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set aside. Cook green beans in a large pot of boiling, salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the beans to the bowl of iced water. Once the beans are cooled, drain well in a colander then dry the beans in a clean kitchen tea towel or paper towels. Do Ahead: wrap the cooked beans in paper towels before placing in a plastic food storage bag and leave overnight in the refrigerator. Bring the beans to room temperature before completing the salad.
3. Walnuts: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, place walnuts on a small baking tray and place in the oven for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes remove the tray, check the nuts and toss lightly. If they need further toasting, return to the oven for one or two minutes. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop the nuts. A word of caution: keep a close eye when toasting nuts, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve burned them! I now always set my kitchen alarm to remind me when to remove them from the oven.
4. To make the salad: Take green beans and vinaigrette from the refrigerator and let stand for one hour to bring to room temperature. Place the beans, walnuts and vinaigrette in a large mixing bowl and toss well to combine. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with fresh mint sprig. The salad can be made 2 hours ahead.