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Green Bean And Nasturtium Salad With Tarragon

Green Bean And Nasturtium Salad With Tarragon
T. Susan Chang for NPR /

Jerry Traunfeld says that in place of tarragon, you can use an equal amount of coarsely chopped fresh dill or summer savory, or 1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves. I liked it with savory; I think its twiggy, pungent scent stands up well to the vinegar. Recipe is adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld (Scribner 2000).

Makes 6 servings

1 medium shallot, very thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)

2 tablespoons tarragon wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, very coarsely chopped


4 quarts water

1 pound tender, young green beans

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

24 nasturtium flowers*

Toss the shallot, vinegar, tarragon and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a large mixing bowl. Let sit uncovered for at least 30 minutes to marinate the shallot and blend the flavors.

Trim the stem ends of the green beans (you can leave the pointed tips). Halve the longer ones if you wish.

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. While the water's heating, fill a large bowl with ice water (using at least a dozen cubes of ice). Once the water boils, add the beans and cook briefly: 1 or 2 minutes for tiny haricots, 4 or 5 for bigger beans. Don't walk away. Drain the beans quickly. Then shock them by dumping them in the ice water, agitating them briefly until they are quite cool (about a minute). Then drain again and set aside. They can be refrigerated in a tightly sealed plastic bag for several hours with no loss of color or texture. If you do refrigerate, first dry them extra-thoroughly on a dish towel.

To make the dressing, stir the olive oil into the shallot mixture. Add the beans and toss well. Taste and season with black pepper and additional salt if needed. Check the nasturtiums for insects and gently toss them with the beans. Transfer the salad to a serving platter or individual salad plates, making sure the nasturtiums are evenly distributed.

*Many nurseries sell nasturtium plants, and some specialty groceries carry the flowers seasonally.

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