Green Bean Salad

GREEN BEAN SALAD WITH BALSAMIC BASIL VINAIGRETTE is HOLIDAY WORTHY BUT EVERY DAY EASY AND it’s super make-ahead friendly for stress free entertaining!

This Green Bean Salad recipe is vibrant, fresh, satisfying, crunchy, and can’t-stop-eating- fabulous!  It is loaded with crisp-tender green beans, juicy tomatoes, roasted beats, punchy red onions, sweet craisins, peppery arugula, buttery mozzarella, and toasted pine nuts all doused in tangy, bright Balsamic Lemon Basil Vinaigrette. This cold Green Bean Salad is exploding with flavor and texture and is a welcome addition to any meal or holiday table.  This salad also gets HUGE points because it’s the ideal make ahead salad because the green beans keep beautifully!

top view of green bean and tomato salad in a wood bowl

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GREEN BEAN SALAD RECIPE 

This Green Bean Salad will make anyone into a green bean lover!  You are going to swoon over the layers of crunchy, creamy, juicy textures and earthy, bright, tangy, fresh flavors!  I was literally shoveling the splendid salad straight from the serving bowl into my mouth after I finished shooting because it’s that good. 

This Green Bean Salad is delightful all year round but also ideal for potlucks or Thanksgiving because is is so make-ahead friendly.  But the perks don’t stop there, here’s more reasons to love this cold Green Bean Salad recipe:

  • Crisp-tender green beans.  The green beans get blanched for just two minutes so they remain vibrant, fresh and fabulous – no soft of mushy green bean salad here!  
  • The BEST dressing. The spectacular explosion of textures and flavors from green beans to the mozzarella, to the nuts is all brought together by the Balsamic Lemon Basis Vinaigrette.  It’s layered with hints of balsamic, lemon juice, lemon zest, Dijon, honey, garlic, and of course basil.  It’s boldly flavorful yet complementary and not overwhelming at the same time.
  • Healthy.  Nothing but fresh vegetables, nuts and cheese AKA vitamins, protein and calcium!
  • Customizable.  Follow the recipe as written or I’ve included different ideas for add-ins and ingredient swaps to make it YOUR favorite Green Bean Salad.
  • Make ahead.  You can make the dressing and assemble most of the salad ahead of time.  When ready to serve, just toss in the arugula, mozzarella and pine nuts. 

COLD GREEN BEAN SALAD INGREDIENTS

The ingredients for this cold Green Bean Salad recipe are very flexible, but I love the following ingredients together – they create the perfect bite!

  • Green beans:  I recommend fresh, slender green beans for the best flavor and texture.  I don’t recommend canned green beans because we are looking for some crunch.   
  • Beets. I am in LOVE with beets in salads.  I had one of the best salads of my life last week and it was all due to the fresh garden beets – so I knew they were a must in this Green Bean Salad. Roasted beets boast a sweet, earthy flavor and add a ton of dimension, so please don’t skip them. If you don’t want to roast your own, you may use canned beets.
  • Arugula:  I prefer baby arugula because it is much milder in flavor and lets the rest of the ingredients really shine.  In fact, if you don’t think you like arugula – try baby arugula!  Of course, if you love arugula, you can use the mature variety, just expect a stronger, more peppery punch.  
  • Cherry tomatoes:  choose cherry tomatoes over grape tomatoes if available because they are sweeter.  I like to use a variety of colors because that means a variety of flavors – and they’re pretty!
  • Mozzarella balls:   there are a few options when it comes to mozzarella balls.  You can commonly find mozzarella pearls in the specialty cheeses section in a shrink-wrapped package without any water.  These are yummy BUT if you have the option, go with FRESH mozzarella balls, about 1-2 inches, packed in water or brine called Ciliegine. They are fresher, creamier and 10X better.  
  • Red onion:  I recommend soaking the red onion in water first to remove some of the bite if you’re not a fan.  You can also substitute with shallots.   
  • Craisins:  are a must in my book! They add a pop of vibrant sweetness that energizes and balances the entire salad.  If you skip the craisins, you’ll want to replace them with something else sweet such as a sweet apple.
  • Pine nuts:  add a nutty crunch you will want in every bite.  You can purchase packages or just the quantity for this Green Bean Salad recipe in the bulk bins at Sprouts.
up close of green bean and tomato salad with pine nuts and basil

GREEN BEAN SALAD DRESSING INGREDIENTS

The Green Bean Salad is dressed in a stunning vinaigrette made with pantry friendly ingredients.  You will need:

  • Olive oil:  use quality, extra virgin olive oil.
  • Balsamic vinegar:  use quality balsamic for the best flavor.
  • Lemon juice and zest:  use fresh lemon because we are also using some lemon zest.
  • Dijon mustard:  just a teaspoon adds an oomph of flavor.
  • Honey:  a teaspoon balances he balsamic and lemon.
  • Basil:  2 tablespoons minced basil makes the dressing.
  • Garlic:  I prefer garlic powder in this vinaigrette because it is a small amount of dressing and I find it gets more evenly distributed.  You may use 1 minced garlic clove instead.
  • Salt and pepper:  you may also want to add additional freshly ground salt and pepper to the salad.
showing how to make green bean and tomato salad recipe by adding basil to salad dressing

GREEN BEAN SALAD VARIATIONS

This Green Bean Salad recipe is the perfect spring board to get creative!  There are many substitutions and additions you can make depending on your mood or what you have on hand:

  • Add or swap some of the green beans for kidney beans, garbanzo beans, wax beans, cannellini beans or pinto beans.
  • Make it ta meal by adding some shredded rotisserie chicken or shrimp.
  • Add sliced hard-boiled eggs or avocado.
  • Swap the mozzarella with feta.
  • Swap the pine nuts with toasted slivered almonds.
  • Swap the craisins with raisins or a sweet fruit such as apples or peaches.
  • Add quinoa, brown rice, farro or couscous.
  • Add roasted butternut squash, corn, potatoes or sweet potatoes.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN FRESH GREEN BEANS

This star of this Green Bean Salad is the green beans so it is important to start with the very best fresh green beans.

Look for green beans that are:

  • brightly colored without brown spots, blemishes, or discoloration.
  • are firm and not saggy, and will give a good snap when broken.  (I do not recommend breaking a bunch of beans in the store!!!)   Avoid beans that are too stiff.
  • on the thinner side. Avoid the largest beans because this means they have matured on the vine and are likely tough.
  • A note about harvesting beans.  Farmers swear by early morning “dew pickings.”  Vegetables, including green beans, picked in the morning usually are sweeter, crisper and juicier than those picked at other times are. The green beans replenish the moisture lost during the day.  Because they have more moisture they also tend to keep longer during refrigeration.   If you have your own garden, you can test this theory.
two tongs tossing fresh green bean salad

HOW TO STORE GREEN BEANS

Now that we have our fresh green beans, it’s important to not mess them up!  To store fresh green beans, refrigerate them in a plastic bag for up to 1 week in the vegetable crisper drawer. Do NOT wash them first or they can get moldy in the bag.

If storing green beans for longer than 5 days, I recommend slipping in a piece of paper towel to absorb extra moisture.

HOW DO I CUT GREEN BEANS?

Fresh green beans are very simple to prep and trimming them yourself will save you money.  You will want to trim both ends of the beans and cut them in half before blanching as they are easier to cut when the firmest. 

To trim green beans quickly, gather a small portion of beans into a small pile, lining up the tips on one side.  Trim the tips with one slice using a large knife.  Push the beans the opposite direction so they are flush with the other side and trim that end. Next, cut the beans in half.  

This method allows you to trim multiple beans at once so you can be done in minutes!

How to Make COLD Green Bean Salad

This Green Bean Salad has a few different steps other than just chopping – but please don’t be scared away.  Each step is easy and adds another layer of YUM!

Step 1- Roast Beets

We are going to start off by roasting the beets.  I know the thought of turning your oven on for a salad might sound like a turn off, but I promise it’s SO worth it AND the beets roast while you prep the rest of your salad ingredients so it really isn’t a time commitment.

Simply toss the beets in some olive oil, season with freshly cracked salt and pepper and bake for about 35 minutes.

Step 2 – Make Dressing

While the beets are roasting, the first thing I do is make the intoxicating dressing.  This gives the dressing some time to chill – and chilled dressing is always 1000X better.  You can shake the dressing up in a mason jar or whisk in a bowl – totally up to you.

showing how to make green bean salad by shaking dressing in a mason jar

Step 3 – Blanch Green Beans

While the water is boiling in anticipation of the green beans, I trim the green beans, chop the tomatoes, mozzarella balls, red onion and toast the pine nuts.  Blanch the green beans for just a minute or two and transfer to ice water so they don’t continue to cook.

Step 4 – Assemble & Chill

Now, it’s time to put it all together!  Combine the green beans with tomatoes, beets, red onion, and craisins.  Drizzle with some of the dressing, cover and chill for one hour (time permitting).  If you have don’t have one hour, you can still serve the Green Bean Salad right away, but chilling really makes a huge difference.

top view showing ingredients cold green bean salad recipe

Step 5 – Serve

When ready to serve, toss the salad with the arugula, mozzarella, pine nuts and additional dressing if desired.  Now dig in!

showing how to serve cold green bean salad by tossing salad with tongs

HOW DO YOU BLANCH GREEN BEANS?

We want our Green Bean Salad to still have some crunch – just like you would expect from a fresh salad, so we use the blanching method to produce crisp-tender green beans.

Blanching green beans is easy!  The beans are cooked in salted boiling water for just 1-2 minutes then transferred to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  That’s it!  Now they’re ready to be dried and used directly in the salad.

Tips and tricks for GREEN BEAN Salad recipe

  • To save time, you can purchase pre-cut, pre-washed green beans.  They are easy to find in 2-pound bags.  I usually go for the bagged organic green beans because they seem to be thinner.
  • Take care when working with beets – they can stain everything, including your countertop and hands.  You’ll want to wear gloves or here’s a handy trick:  squeeze some fresh lemon juice directly onto your hands over the sink.  Give them a good rub then wash with soap and water.
  • The beets will also color the mozzarella cheese, that is why we stir it in at the end.  This discoloration doesn’t bother me, but just a fair warning.
  • I love the Green Bean Salad recipe as written, but feel free to play around with the ingredients per the recipe variations and your own creativity. 
  • If you don’t like beets, swap them for roasted sweet potatoes or roasted butternut squash like in this recipe.  
  • If you skip the craisins, you’ll want to add back something sweet to the salad such as sweet apple, etc.  
  • Use quality extra virgin olive oil and quality balsamic vinegar because you can TASTE the difference! 
  • Customize the dressing to your taste.  You can use more or less of any of the ingredients. 
  • Plan ahead when making the Green Bean Salad so it has time to chill for at least 1 hour, best if 2.  This allows for the beans to marinate in the dressing as the flavors marry and build.

WHAT CAN I PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME?

This Green Bean Salad is a great make ahead salad because you can toss it all together except the arugula, mozzarella and pine nuts then chill until ready to serve. 

If you want to be able to assemble the salad immediately, then you have the option of prepping the ingredients ahead of time.  This comes in handy if you are going to be gone all day and want to assemble the salad as soon as you get home. 

  • Vegetables. You can trim and blanch the green beans, roast the beets, chop the tomatoes and red onions head of time.  Store the tomatoes separately because they can release juices.   
  • Nuts.  You can toast the pine nuts weeks in advance and store them in an airtight container.
  • Dressing.  The dressing tastes exponentially better made in advance and it will save you time later!  The dressing can be made 24 hours ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
showing how to make cold green bean salad by adding green beans, tomatoes, beets to salad bowl

HOW LONG DOES GREEN BEAN SALAD LAST IN THE FRIDGE?

The Green Bean Salad with ALL the ingredients is best served within an hour because the arugula will become soggy.  If you hold the arugula, the salad can last up to two days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

CAN I FREEZE GREEN BEANS? 

You can freeze green beans after blanching them, but don’t freeze them raw or they will become a funny texture.  

To freeze fresh green beans:

  1. Rinse green beans.
  2. Trim ends and cut in half (if using for this salad).
  3. Blanch beans in a large pot of boiling water for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove to a large bowl or pot of ice water for 3 minutes
  5. Remove green beans and pat dry.
  6. Place green beans on a baking sheet so they aren’t touching.
  7. Flash freeze by placing the baking sheet in the freezer for 1 hour or until green beans are solid.  This will prevent the green beans from clumping together in bags/container.
  8. Transfer green beans to a large freezer bag or airtight container.
  9. Seal and freeze for up to 5 months.
top view of green bean salad recipe in a wood bowl with green beans, tomatoes, mozarella

WHAT CAN I SERVE WITH COLD GREEN BEAN SALAD?

When you’re wondering what to serve with dinner, the answer is Green Bean Salad – it goes with practically EVERYTHING!  Here are just a few ideas:

ARE GREEN BEANS HEALTHY?

Green beans are available fresh all year long, so you can enjoy this Green Bean Salad all year long!   And once you hear how good they are for you; you will want to eat them ALL YEAR LONG.

  • A one cup serving of green beans has 30 calories and 3.4 grams of fiber!
  • They also contain anti-oxidants also known as catechins.  These catechins are known to improve heart health and help prevent cancer and help manage/prevent diabetes.
  • Green beans are a good source of potassium, and folate, and are an excellent source of protein, iron, and zinc.
  • If you are looking to boost your immune system look no further, green beans are a great source of vitamin C.

These green little gems sure pack a punch.  I hope you are convinced to utilize more beans into your life, starting with this Green Bean Salad! You will also love them in Roasted Green Beans with Gruyere Sauce, Green Beans with Bacon Mushroom Sauce, Dijon Maple Green Beans, Chili Dijon Pork with Green Beans and Pesto Chicken with Tomatoes and Green Beans.

Looking for more Winter salad recipes?

up close of tongs tossing green bean tomato salad recipe

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top view of green bean and tomato salad in a wood bowl

Green Bean Salad with Balsamic Basil Vinaigrette

This Green Bean Salad recipe is vibrant, fresh, satisfying, crunchy, and can’t-stop-eating- fabulous! It is loaded with crisp-tender green beans, juicy tomatoes, roasted beats, punchy red onions, sweet craisins, peppery arugula, buttery mozzarella, and toasted pine nuts all doused in tangy, bright Balsamic Lemon Basil Vinaigrette. This cold Green Bean Salad is exploding with flavor and texture and is a welcome addition to any meal or holiday table. This salad also gets HUGE points because it’s the ideal make ahead salad because the green beans keep beautifully!
Servings: 10 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

SALAD

  • 1 bunch beets about 4 beets - or more if desired
  • 2 pounds fresh green beans trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (I like mixed colors) halved
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion or shallots
  • 1/2 cup craisins
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 oz.) Ciliegine - fresh mozzarella balls (1-2 inches) halved
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

DRESSING

Instructions

  • BEETS: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the top and bottom ends off of the beets then peel using a vegetable peeler. Cut the beets into 1- 1 ½ inch chunks. Place beets on a foil lined baking sheet. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and some freshly cracked salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes or until the beets are fork tender.
  • DRESSING: While the beets are roasting, prepare the rest of the salad. Add all of the Dressing ingredients to a mason jar and shake vigorously or whisk together in a small bowl. Refrigerate dressing until ready to use. If serving salad within the hour, then place dressing in the freezer to quickly chill.
  • GREEN BEANS: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and stir in two tablespoon salt. Add the green beans and cook until tender crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl of ice water to transfer the greens to. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beans to ice water to stop cooking. Drain the beans and pat very dry. Transfer to a large salad bowl.
  • Combine green beans with tomatoes, beets, red onion, and craisins. Drizzle with some of the dressing, cover and chill one hour (time permitting). When ready to serve, toss with arugula, mozzarella, pine nuts and additional dressing if desired. Season with freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

Tips and tricks 

  • To save time, you can purchase pre-cut, pre-washed green beans.  They are easy to find in 2-pound bags.  I usually go for the bagged organic green beans because they seem to be thinner.
  • Take care when working with beets – they can stain everything, including your countertop and hands.  You’ll want to wear gloves or here’s a handy trick:  squeeze some fresh lemon juice directly onto your hands over the sink.  Give them a good rub then wash with soap and water.
  • The beets will also color the mozzarella cheese, that is why we stir it in at the end.  This discoloration doesn’t bother me, but just a fair warning.
  • There are a few options when it comes to mozzarella balls.  You can commonly find mozzarella pearls in the specialty cheeses section in a shrink-wrapped package without any water.  These are yummy BUT if you have the option, go with FRESH mozzarella balls, about 1-2 inches, packed in water or brine called Ciliegine. They are fresher, creamier and 10X better.  
  • I love the Green Bean Salad recipe as written, but feel free to play around with the ingredients per the recipe variations and your own creativity. 
  • If you skip the craisins, you’ll want to add back something sweet to the salad such as sweet apple, etc.  
  • Use quality extra virgin olive oil and quality balsamic vinegar because you can TASTE the difference! 
  • Customize the dressing to your taste.  You can use more or less of any of the ingredients. 
  • Plan ahead when making the Green Bean Salad so it has time to chill for at least 1 hour, best if 2.  This allows for the beans to marinate in the dressing as the flavors marry and build.

GREEN BEAN SALAD VARIATIONS

This Green Bean Salad recipe is the perfect spring board to get creative!  There are many substitutions and additions you can make depending on your mood or what you have on hand:
  • Add or swap some of the green beans for kidney beans, garbanzo beans, wax beans, cannellini beans or pinto beans.
  • Make it ta meal by adding some shredded rotisserie chicken or shrimp.
  • Add sliced hard-boiled eggs or avocado.
  • Swap the mozzarella with feta.
  • Swap the pine nuts with toasted slivered almonds.
  • Swap the craisins with raisins or a sweet fruit such as apples or peaches.
  • Add quinoa, brown rice, farro or couscous.
  • Add roasted butternut squash, corn, potatoes or sweet potatoes.

MAKE AHEAD

You can prepare the salad but hold the arugula, mozzarella, pine nuts and additional dressing.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours then toss with remaining ingredients when ready to serve.    

STORAGE

The Green Bean Salad with ALL the ingredients is best served within an hour because the arugula will become soggy.  If you hold the arugula, the salad can last up to two days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.   When ready to eat, add desired amount of arugula. 
 

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10 Comments

  1. Hope Cronkhite says

    I absolutely cannot wait to try this recipe! It looks so delicious and perfect to take to a picnic. I do have a random question… Where did you get the mason jar used to store the vinaigrette? I just love it!

    • Jen says

      Yes, perfect for a picnic! I actually got the jar at Hobby Lobby – I think they still have them. Great find!

  2. Debbie says

    Can you substitute something else for the beets?

  3. Monique says

    Hi, made this recipe for the first time yesterday and its delicious, I had leftovers tonight and its tastier! the nest thing about this salad (apart from the taste) is the fact it can be assembled ahead of time. I added a packet of ready-cooked brown rice + red quinoa mix to bulk it up.

    • Jen says

      I’m so happy you loved this Green Bean Salad Monique and that it was even better the next day – winning! Your addition of brown rice/quinoa sounds perfect!

  4. Erica says

    I’ve made this twice now with and without cheese and beetroot. Awesome each time. Mushrooms went well in it too. Thankyou

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Erica! I’m so happy to hear it’s on repeat!

  5. Kathleen says

    Love all of your recipes! Thankful the Lord has given you such a wonderful culinary gift. Thank you for sharing and caring so deeply about the joy food and fellowship provide:)

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment Kathleen! I’m honored you appreciate my recipes!