Summer produce brings such richness, including the humble green bean, or “haricot vert”. which might be considered the most important in the French vegetable repertoire, besides lettuce. It is the vegetable people identify with French cuisine; the vegetable that appears on every French table along with roasts, or stews, or fish, or just about anything because it’s a best friend, always welcome.
Tiny Haricots aren’t the Thing
The tiny haricots verts that have become associated with French cuisine are rarely those that actually wind up on the French table, because the tiny version aren’t grown in France but in Africa, an export destined for finery. The truly French haricot vert is a long green bean of imperfect size and inimitable flavor. It is with us throughout summer, a jewel in the vegetable crown with a price that echoes its preciousness. But no matter price is no object which you will learn if you’re here and you don’t get to the market early during haricot vert season, for you may just lose out!
I love green beans and this salad is a favorite way to prepare them, a poem of sweet and savory, and the garnish of fresh almonds is magical.
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Fresh Green Almonds
Fresh green almonds are harvested by hand from the almond trees in Provence about two weeks before the nuts are ripe. They’re a delicacy with their celadon green and slightly furry outer shell which, when broken reveals the not-quite-hard inner shell and then the milky, sweet, tender crisp nut within. Fresh almonds are a fleeting thing because all the tree wants to do is make its fruit ripe, so harvesters hurry to get a certain number of the immature fruits off the tree and into the market. There, they are snapped up for about three weeks a year, served on their own as an appetizer or used the way I’ve offered them here, as a precious garnish.
Ok to Use Any Almond
If you cannot find fresh almonds, you can use mature almonds without their skin. Also, while I’ve called for white peaches here because they are so very delicate and delicious, believe me this salad is a hit with white peaches, flat peaches, any tree ripened peach you can find.
Make This Salad!
Please make this salad, many times during the season. It is such a beautiful first course, a perfect way to introduce a summer meal, inside or out. I guarantee that it will bring you great pleasure!
HARICOTS VERTS, PECHES BLANCHES, AMANDES - GREEN BEANS, WHITE PEACHES, ALMONDS
- For the green beans:
- 2 pounds;1 kg green beans, trimmed
- 3 tablespoons almond or olive oil
- For the vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or to taste
- 1 large shallot minced
- 4 tablespoons;60ml almond or olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- The Peaches:
- 1 pound;500g white or yellow peaches, skinned
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- About 1-1/2 pounds green almonds in the shel, lto give 3/4 cup (120g shelled green almonds) OR 3/4 cup raw (untoasted) almonds, skinned
- Bring 3 cups (750 ml) water to a boil in the bottom of a steamer. Steam the green beans until they are tender through but still a vivid green, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the beans to a large bowl and toss them with the almond oil. Reserve.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the vinegar and the salt. Add the shallot, whisk, then slowly whisk in the almond oil and the extra virgin olive oil. Season lightly with the pepper.
- Cut each peach into thin wedges. Add the peaches to the raspberry vinaigrette and toss gently.
- To assemble the salad, evenly divide the beans onto six serving plates. Top each plate with an equal amount of peaches. Dust with sea salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with the almonds and serve immediately.