This salad has made an appearance at my Thanksgiving for a couple years now--a lighter approach to the traditional green bean casserole. I particularly like this dish for the holidays because you don't have to make room for one more thing in the oven--it can be served chilled or at room temperature. I think there is room for both types of green beans next year :)
The fennel adds a wonderful flavor and crispness to the salad. You should be able to find fennel in the produce section of your grocery store (it looks like a root with green fronds--often called 'anise').
Hope you enjoy it--even though Thanksgiving is over, this green bean salad would made a great side dish to a steak and potatoes any other night of the week for dinner.
GREAN BEAN SALAD WITH WALNUTS, FENNEL, AND GOAT CHEESE
adapted from Real Simple magazine
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (or as we used above, whole grain or stone ground mustard)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or champagne vinegar)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced into half-moons (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 4-ounce log fresh goat cheese, crumbled
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Gradually add the oil and whisk until well combined; set aside.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain, run under cold water to cool, and set aside until you're ready to assemble the salad.
In a large bowl, combine the green beans, fennel, and walnuts. Add the goat cheese and vinaigrette just before serving. (NOTE: I like to add the goat cheese last so it doesn't get as mushed up and stays in clumps for easier eating and a more intact flavor).
Toss the salad well and serve at room temperature or chilled.
Serves 8-10 as a side dish.