Green Bean Salad with Basil, Balsamic & Parmesan

Green Bean Salad with Basil, Balsamic & Parmesan
green beans

Food often evokes fond memories. Green beans remind me of when I was a kid sitting outside in summer snapping the ends off of fresh beans for dinner at my friend, Lisa's house. There's really nothing special about trimming beans, but for me, it's a really fond memory. There's something about working with food in its "as close to the earth" form that resonates with me. Every time I shuck corn, memories of doing this as a kid fill my mind. I loved shucking corn as a kid so much that I even (unsuccessfully) tried back then to make corn husk dolls from the remnants I'd just ripped from the cob. Although growing food can be a lot of work, it makes me feel connected to nature and food in its freshest form. It doesn't mean I won't tap into a pint of Ben & Jerry's from time to time, but there's just something special about preparing food that you've grown or was recently picked from someone's farm. 

Today, as I waited for my train home from work, I thought about the green beans I picked almost a week ago from the garden and knew I had to use them tonight. They don't last forever. After a long day, I'll admit, I just wanted to go home and slap together a tuna sandwich, but instead, I looked up ideas for using my green beans in a quick and easy way. Thanks to Elise at Simply Recipes for giving me the inspiration for this dish. I made only about 1/3 of the full quantity because it's what I had to pick from my small garden, but it was really tasty and fresh. 


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: Serves 6


1 1/2 lbs trimmed green beans, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
4 TBSP olive oil
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place the green beans In a large pot of salted boiling water for about 2 minutes to blanch them.
  2. With a slotted spoon, remove the beans and place them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
  3. Chop the basil leaves.
  4. Remove the beans from the water with a slotted spoon after a few minutes and place them in a bowl. Add the chopped basil.
  5. Add the olive oil and toss to coat.
  6. Sprinkle in the balsamic vinegar and Parmesan and toss to combine.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Chill or serve at room temperature.

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine