There are several perfectly fine, simple things to do with green beans like just steaming them and maybe topping them with sliced almonds or boiling them and tossing them with roasted potatoes. However, when some green beans appeared in my CSA box a couple of weeks ago, I really wanted to give them some zippy flavor. I wanted to use them in a Thai-style curry or maybe in some kind of interesting salad. I found exactly what I had in mind in, of all places, an Italian cookbook. Stir, by Barbara Lynch, had become a favorite source of mine for interesting pasta, pizzas, soups, and salads, and that’s where I found this green bean and shrimp salad. The big flavor I was looking for is in the vinaigrette which is made with shallots, white wine vinegar, Thai red curry paste, and creme fraiche. The salad itself is composed of blanched, crisp-tender green beans, big, seared shrimp, thin slices of radishes, and toasted hazelnuts. With so many textures and flavors coming together, this salad was exactly the kind of thing I imagined for those green beans.
The vinaigrette can be made in advance, and I should have made extra to use on a lettuce salad the next day. In a small bowl, finely chopped shallots, white wine vinegar, and Thai red curry paste were combined. Grapeseed oil, creme fraiche, and lemon juice were whisked into that mixture. It was seasoned to taste with salt, and of course, more curry paste can be added to make it spicier. Radishes were thinly sliced, and I used a benriner to make very thin slices. I also placed the radish slices in a bowl of ice water while prepping everything else to make them extra crisp. Next, hazelnuts were toasted in the oven and then rubbed in a towel to mostly remove the skins. The green beans were blanched to preserve their color, and the shrimp were seared in a saute pan until just cooked for about a couple of minutes per side. The green beans, shrimp, radishes, and hazelnuts were combined in a large bowl and tossed with the vinaigrette. I garnished the salad with Thai basil leaves, but cilantro was suggested in the recipe.
Of course, this salad could easily be adapted to include more of one thing and less of another. In the headnote, Lynch writes that she sometimes leaves out the shrimp when taking the salad to a picnic or serving it as a side dish. However the salad is composed, the vinaigrette is the one thing that shouldn’t change. The creamy texture and bright, lively flavors made this salad what it was.