The farmers’ market has the first French beans right now, mine are still entwining themselves up the canes at the back of my raised bed. This is a lovely little salad to go with anything; it’s got a real zing to it. I used a tarragon mustard to give it a little extra kick. Great for a picnic or a BBQ; the capers also add a little je ne sais quoi to it.
Serves 4 as a salad
4 handfuls French beans, stalk ends removed
2-3 heaped teaspoons French mustard, to taste
2 tablespoons good-quality white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 medium shallot, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers
Bring a pan of water to a fast boil, add your beans, put a lid on the pan, and cook for at least 4 to 5 minutes. Boiling the beans fast like this helps them to retain all their nutrients.
Meanwhile, put the mustard and vinegar into a jam jar or bowl and, while stirring, add the olive oil to make a good hot French dressing. Season carefully with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add the finely chopped shallot, the capers and the garlic.
Remove one of the beans from the pan to check if it’s cooked. If it holds its shape but is also soft to the bite, it’s perfect. Drain in a colander. Now, while the beans are steaming hot, this is the perfect moment to dress them – a hot bean will take on more of the wonderful dressing than a cold one. It is best to serve the beans warm, not cold, and certainly not at fridge temperature because the flavours will be muted and boring.
Best served warmish and not refrigerated, so just put them on the side until ready for use.