Green Bean Salad with Basil & Pine Nuts

Green beans are something I was never very fond of when I was growing up. Actually, I went out of my way to avoid them if I could. In typical Western fashion they were usually served unseasoned in a pile on the side of my plate.

But my relationship with green beans has certainly changed for the better over the years. In fact many vegetables I used to avoid as a kid — from carrots and cauliflower to bell peppers and broccoli — now make a regular and very welcome appearance on my plate.

So, what brought about this big change of heart? Discovering authentic Mediterranean and Asian cooking, of course! In these cultures vegetables aren’t merely seen as an afterthought, they’re an integral part of the meal and are usually cut up and mixed in and cooked with the rest of the meal (some good examples include stir-fries, pasta dishes, curries, pizza, sushi, risottos, pilafs and paellas). And if vegetables are used in a salad or side dish they’re typically combined with wonderfully flavored dressings and seasonings.

This recipe is a great example of how, with a bit of Mediterranean flair, boring old green beans can be turned from simple to sublime. The fresh basil and garlic bring out their natural sweetness, the extra virgin olive oil adds a rich fruity flavor and a delightful mouth-feel, the lemon juice adds a hint of tanginess, and the pine nuts add a lovely contrasting crunch.

Here’s the recipe.