Balsamic Green Bean Salad

By Jess

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I used to be a very picky eater as a kid. My siblings as well. To this day, though we are all grown adults now, my stepdad still doesn’t like to have spaghetti for dinner because we requested it so much.

Balsamic Green Bean Salad- with red onion and walnuts.

Balsamic Green Bean Salad- with red onion and walnuts.

BUT. But. Every summer, we would go into the garden and eat fresh-picked green beans and peas like candy. I have no idea how our parents got us to do that. I don’t even know if any beans made it to the kitchen with three kids packing them away.

Fast forward twenty years and I still love green beans. This bright and tasty green bean salad combines fresh blanched green beans with walnuts and a simple vinaigrette.

For choosing green beans, when you bend them you want them to snap, which ensures that they are fresh. If the bean bends, I would only use it in a soup.

green beans

In this recipe the green beans are quickly blanched in boiling water and then cooled in an ice bath to stop the cooking. I usually dice the onion and walnuts while I am waiting for the pot of water to boil. Also I usually prep the ice bath – does anyone else think it’s funny to call it a bath? – while the green beans are blanching.

After their bath, you toss the green beans with olive oil, balsamic, red onions, and walnuts. You can toast the walnuts for added nuttiness or toss them in raw.

balsamic salad

The ice bath is an important step to keep the green beans from turning an unappealing olive color. This can also happen if you cook them for too long. This is the same reason that we first coat the beans in olive oil, and then balsamic vinegar. It’s all about the details. No one really wants to eat green beans that overdone.

Because you are only actually cooking for 2-3 minutes, this recipe is easy to put together in a hurry. It can complement almost any entrée, and is also good served cold. In fact sometimes I make this ahead of time, say in the early afternoon, and store it in the refrigerator to take out at dinner.

balsamic green bean salad

Now, there is the argument that: wait a minute, aren’t green beans legumes and therefore not Paleo?! (Gasp.) Well, here is where we get technical. Green beans are technically legumes, which are restricted from the Paleo diet mainly because of the problems that lectins can lead to with digestion. However, green beans are much lower in carbohydrates and lectin than other beans. They can also be eaten fresh, unlike most other beans, which are dried and therefore harder to digest. So, therefore, thus, in conclusion, I believe green beans are okay to eat. And if all that didn’t convince you, Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson both say they’re cool. So next time you’re looking for a quick and easy side dish, look no further.


    • 1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed and cut to 3 inch long pieces
    • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
    • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch for 2-3 minutes. The beans should be just barely cooked through and still crisp. Prepare a large bowl of ice water while the beans are cooking. Remove beans from hot water and place into ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain.
  2. Place the green beans and red onion in a large bowl. Toss in the olive oil to coat. Sprinkle in the balsamic and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with chopped walnuts to serve.


Serving Size





Total Time

15 minutes

Prep Time

10 minutes

Cook Time

5 minutes

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Ask a Question 

  1. Could you please tell me , how much is 15 % meat that we are suppose to eat? Is this each meal, or daily? Is it 15% size of a plate , and the rest vegetables? Love the recipes and love the paleo way!! Having a difficult time giving my cream in coffee in the morning (2 cups). Thank you for your time!! Looking forward to your reply.
    Yukon gal

  2. Another great recipe. I substituted chopped hazelnuts for the walnuts, due to allergies. Yum! Enjoyed by the whole family.

  3. I have the Paleo food list App. When I enter Green Beans I get a Thumbs Down….meaning they are NOT on the approved list. Are they ok to eat or not??

  4. She addresses the green bean/legume issue IN this post if you read through it all. Most all paleo “experts” agree they’re fine. Read her recipe and you’ll see why.

  5. According to Paleo.com, green beans, snow peas and sugar snap peas are fine on the Paleo diet because they are young legumes and their toxins have not developed as much as the other legumes…

  6. Just made this tonight…. DELICIOUS! The walnuts add such a great dynamic to this dish, don’t skip them! Yum!

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