One of the best things about summer is farmers’ market finds—a treasure trove of fresh fruits and vegetables, spices and herbs, and plenty baked goods to take for the road. In the first episode of Ludo à la Maison season nine, chef Ludo Lefebvre returns with a grilled salad recipe that makes the most out of seasonal produce. With a few green beans, yellow wax beans, and sungold tomatoes that he picked up at his local market, he whips up a meal that is colorful and healthy, with plenty of room for improvisation, too. The best part? It’s fast, and ready in just over half an hour. Check out some of his key tips below:
Clean and blanch the beans
After cleaning the green beans and yellow wax beans, follow this rule—ice, hot, ice. Lefebvre first blanches the beans in iced Pellegrino water (since the water is naturally salted, he says) and then cooks them in boiling water before adding them back into the ice water. This helps set the color of the beans.
Cook the beans al dente
Be careful not to overcook the green beans and yellow wax beans, as Lefebvre says you’re going to grill them after. Boil them until they’re al dente, and then put them in ice water to stop the cooking right away. Although you might be tempted to skip the blanching before you grill, Lefebvre says the texture won’t be good.
Remove the green germ from the shallots
When you’re dicing the shallots, make sure to take out the green germ in the center, since it’s very bitter.
Good balsamic is worth it
Lefebvre uses a balsamic vinegar that’s been aged for 20 years for the vinaigrette, which has a syrupy consistency.
Grind the pepper yourself
When you’re making the vinaigrette, grind the white pepper on the spot. Store-bought, pre-ground pepper doesn’t have as much flavor. Whenever possible, Lefebvre recommends grinding your own spices.
Balance the balsamic
Lemon juice brings needed acidity to the vinaigrette, since the balsamic vinegar is sweet.
Make sure you get a good char
Lefebvre says he likes his grilled vegetables almost black, so you can really taste the grill. To accomplish this, he adds a little olive oil to his beans before he cooks them, to create a nice color and char. The green beans need to cook for at least 8-10 minutes, while the Sungold tomatoes cook more quickly—you don’t want them to explode, or they’ll lose their juiciness.
Get creative with the vegetables
While Lefebvre opted for green beans because he found them at the farmers’ market, he says you can use any vegetable you want. Cooking is not just following the recipe, he explains—it’s also about what you can find fresh.
Combine everything in a bowl
Now that the vegetables are grilled, the walnuts are toasted, and the vinaigrette is made, all that’s left to do is assemble the salad. Grab some baby lettuce, and combine it with the beans, tomatoes (gently, so as not to crush them), walnuts, and some olives too—toss with the vinaigrette, and enjoy.
Get the recipe here.