What's On the Side: Green Bean and Pea Salad with Basil, Parmesan, and a Balsamic Vinaigrette

This weekend marked the first harvest of vegetables from our garden -- the sugar snap peas and purple beans were plump and ready to be picked. The rest of our garden is also growing well - I can't wait for those tomatoes to turn red! Not pictured are our broccoli, turnips, carrots, beets, and potatoes, which are also making their way to maturity.

The only disappointing thing about purple beans is that they turn green when blanched. I read a tip online that suggested adding baking soda to the cooking water to help the beans to retain their vibrant purple color, but that trick didn't work for me. Such is life; they are still quite tasty!

In addition to the beans, I also added some freshly-shelled peas to this side dish. It appears that I was a little overzealous with my pea harvest, as some of the peas were still quite small, but no matter, they cooked up just as well as their bigger brethren.

This green bean and pea salad comes together with the addition of a balsamic vinaigrette, basil, and freshly-grated Parmesan (some of my favorite flavors). I couldn't help but add some toasted pine nuts to the mix as well, to add an additional crunch to the salad. I shared this side dish with friends over the weekend and it was a hit.

I can't wait until the rest of our garden is ready to harvest!

Green Bean and Pea Salad with Basil, Parmesan, and a Balsamic Vinaigrette
(printer-friendly version)
makes 4 servings

1 pound (about 3 cups) trimmed green beans, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
1/4 cup shelled peas
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
1 large clove (1 teaspoon) garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (plus additional shavings for garnish)
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, remove the beans from the water and immediately dunk them into a bowl of ice water. Drain the green beans and place in a serving bowl.
2. Add the fresh peas to the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Remove from the water and dunk into the ice water. Drain the peas and place in the serving bowl with the green beans.
3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pine nuts and toast until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove the pine nuts from the skillet and set aside. Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet. Add the chopped shallot and saute until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds.
4. Add the shallot and garlic to the serving bowl with the green beans and peas. Stir to combine. Next add in the toasted pine nuts, chopped basil, and grated Parmesan. Stir together. Stir in the olive oil and  balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with Parmesan shavings before serving.

(inspired by this recipe from Simple Recipes)