Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving Green Bean Salad Recipe with Blue Cheese, Dried Cranberries, and Pecans

Thanksgiving Green Bean Salad Recipe with Blue Cheese, Dried Cranberries, and Pecans
Thanksgiving Green Bean Salad has Blue Cheese, Cranberries, and Pecans, and it can be made ahead!

There's a lot to love about this Thanksgiving Green Bean Salad.  Not only is it Thanksgiving-dinner-worthy in the flavor department, but you can cook the beans and marinate them in the dressing, and toast the pecans, crumble the blue cheese and measure the cranberries all in advance, so when it's turkey dinner time all you need to do is toss the salad together.  The salad is great at room temperature too, so you don't even need much fridge space.  I'm calling it Thanksgiving Green Bean Salad because there are a few ingredients here (like dried cranberries and blue cheese) that are a bit of a splurge if you're trying to lose weight, but I'd definitely indulge in this salad on Thanksgiving.  

And if you want more evidence of just how special-occasion-worthy this salad really is, I served it to my friends Todd and Diane from White on Rice Couple when they stayed at my house last weekend for a signing for their gorgeous cookbook Bountiful: Recipes Inspired by Our Garden.  (Click through and check out the cookbook if you haven't seen it; it was picked as one of The Best Cookbooks of 2013 by Amazon.com, and well-deserved!)  Making dinner for a couple of amazing cooks like Todd and Diane can be rather intimidating, but this salad was perfect for the occasion.

Trim beans, cut into smallish pieces, and give them a wash in the salad spinner if they need it.  Start a pan of water boiling, add a little salt, and cook the beans just until they're barely done, about 4-5 minutes.

While the beans cook, whisk together white balsamic vinegar, Dijon, olive oil, and some black pepper to make the dressing.

When they're done, dump the beans into a colander placed in the sink and rinse with VERY COLD water.  Let beans drain well.

When the water has drained off, transfer the beans to a salad spinner and spin until they're very dry.  (You'll be surprised how much more water comes off.)

Then spread the beans out on a paper towel, cover with another towel, and blot dry, until they are as dry as you can get them.  (Don't skip this step!)

Toss the dried beans with the dressing until all the beans are well-coated with dressing.  (At this point you can let the beans marinate in the dressing on the counter until you're ready to mix in the other ingredients.)

When you're ready to serve the salad, toast the pecans for a couple of minutes in a dry frying pan, then cool on a cutting board.

Measure the dried cranberries and blue cheese.

Coarsely chop the toasted pecans.

Then toss everything together, season with a little more fresh ground black pepper, and serve.  Uh-May-Zing salad!  Hope you enjoy.

Thanksgiving Green Bean Salad with Blue Cheese, Dried Cranberries, and Pecans
(Makes about 4 servings, or more if part of a meal like Thanksgiving with a lot of dishes; recipe adapted from Haricots Verts Salad with Pecans and Blue Cheese at Fine Cooking.)

1 lb. thin green beans, trimmed, washed and cut into short pieces
1/2 tsp. salt (for cooking water; the beans don't absorb all this salt but it does add flavor)
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
fresh ground pepper to taste (for seasoning finished salad)

Dressing Ingredients:
2 T white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 tsp. Dijon
3 T extra-virgin olive oil (use your best-tasting oil for this)
fresh-ground black pepper to taste

Fill a medium-sized pot with water, add the salt, and bring water to a boil while you trim the beans.

Trim both ends of green beans.  (I do this by grabbing a bunch loosely in my hand so the beans are standing up, then letting them fall down on to the cutting board so all the ends are lined up.  Trim the ends and repeat with the other end.)  Cut beans into short pieces, 1-2 inches long, and wash in salad spinner if needed.  

Add beans to the water when it comes to a boil and cook 4-5 minutes, or just until beans are barely done but still slightly crisp.  Drain immediately into a colander placed in the sink and rinse with VERY COLD water.  Let beans drain in the colander a few minutes, then gently spin in a salad spinner.  Lay out a paper towel, spread out the beans, put another paper towel over the top, and blot dry, until the beans are as dry as you can get them.

While beans cook, whisk together the vinegar, Dijon, olive oil, and pepper to make the dressing.  When the beans are dry, put into a plastic bowl and toss with dressing.  (At this point the beans can marinate on the counter for several hours until you're ready to serve the salad.)

When you're ready to serve the salad, toast the pecans for about 2 minutes in a dry pan over high heat, shaking the pan the whole time so they don't burn.   Put pecans on a cutting board to cool; then coarsely chop.  Measure the dried cranberries and crumble the blue cheese.  Toss all ingredients together and season to taste with more fresh-ground black pepper.  

I was pleasantly surprised that the salad was still quite delicious even after it had been in the fridge overnight, and the two times I've made this (so far!) I happily ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Click Here for Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
I doubled the amount of beans in proportion to other ingredients in the recipe to make a more low-glycemic salad, but even with that change, the dried cranberries and high-fat blue cheese still make this best for Phase 3 of the South Beach Diet, or a "once-in-a-while treat" for phase 2, to eat on a special occasion like Thanksgiving.  (And considering the other foods that are usually on the Thanksgiving menu, I wouldn't feel guilty at all eating it for that day, even if you're actively trying to lose weight.)

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Thanksgiving-Worthy Salads You Might Like:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Green Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad with Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Green Apples and Cranberries ~ Rachel Cooks
Arugula, Red Grape, and Shaved Manchego Salad ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
12 Hearty Winter Salad for Thanksgiving ~ Nosh on It
Thanksgiving Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!


  1. Thanks Lydia, me too. I might have to make it for Thanksgiving, even though someone else is already making green beans!

  2. Loved this recipe so much! I ate two big servings. It's so fresh and amazing! Thanks for cooking this for us. xoxo

  3. I love having some health on the Thanksgiving table and this strikes the perfect balance between being good for you and being captivating!

  4. White on Rice, loved cooking with you guys, so glad you liked it.

    Thanks Hari!

    Joanne, I agree. There is some specialness with the blue cheese and the cranberries, but still a lot of healthy green beans!

  5. This beats green bean casserole any day of the week! What a fantastic addition to a Thanksgiving feast.

  6. Thanks Dara! I am making it again for a dinner party on Monday.

  7. Could you serve this warm? Or would that be weird...

  8. Anna, I'm not 100% sure about the logistics of serving it warm, maybe just eliminate the step of cooling the beans with cold water, drain well, and toss the beans with the dressing right away. I think the flavors would be good warm though. Fun idea!


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