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Charred Green Beans with Herby Lemon Salsa

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These over-the-top Charred Green Beans with Herby Lemon Salsa will delight your tastebuds! Charred and blistered green beans are the star of the show, complimented by a refreshing, gourmet, yet simple lemon salsa on top. It’s a unique side dish that celebrates summer produce!
Prep 22 minutes
Cook 8 minutes
Total 30 minutes
5 from 15 votes

Green beans are fun again thanks to these Charred Green Beans with Herby Lemon Salsa

Think of it as a unique and fun side dish that features the best of summer produce. Green beans are stir-fried with garlic until they’re tender and charred all over, then topped with a refreshing “salsa” made of macerated shallots, fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, and lemon. 

Every bite is better than the last. The green beans are savory and tender while the salsa is a refreshing, herbaceous, and slightly sweet flavor bomb. Your summer dinners won’t be complete without this side!

Table of Contents:
1. Why this recipe works
2. Ingredient notes
3. Tips for making this recipe
4. Frequently Asked Questions
5. Recipe card with notes

Overhead view of plate of charred green beans on a red table.

Why this recipe works

Green beans, but with a twist!

You can’t go wrong with green beans in summer. They’re crisp, juicy, sweet, and go well with anything.

But let’s be honest, green beans rarely get an opportunity to truly shine. So it’s time to put something more exciting on the table, which is where this charred green beans recipe comes in!

In this over-the-top side dish, fresh green beans are stir-fried in a sizzling hot wok with garlic (similar to how they’re prepared in Chinese restaurants). The beans get tender yet still a bit crisp and beautifully browned on the outside. One bite and you’ll never settle for boring green beans again!

Impress and delight your tastebuds

To complete these gorgeous charred green beans, they’re dressed in a preserved lemon “salsa” that will make your tastebuds dance.

And this is no ordinary salsa. It’s a refreshingly herby and umami-packed condiment made with seasonal cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs, preserved lemon, shallots, and chile peppers. Use it on these green beans, then make it again and again to serve with beans or lentils, on this Savory Asparagus Galette, and with even more charred veggies, like broccoli and cauliflower.

If you don’t have access to preserved lemons, you can easily swap in lemon zest. 

The perfect blend of summer flavors 

A beautiful blend of summer flavors is married in the lemon salsa. Preserved lemons are a shining star (learn more about them in this post on How to Make and Use Preserved Lemons) because they add a unique umami flavor in addition to their delightful lemony goodness, which only gets better when fresh basil and parsley are added. 

Fresh summer cherry tomatoes give the salsa just the right amount of sweetness, which balances the heat from the chile pepper and the tang from the vinegar.

Ingredient notes

Green beans 

Green beans are the star ingredient of this summer dish. They’re snappy, crunchy, have an earthy-sweet flavor, and pair well with savory summer flavors. Fresh green beans are plentiful (and cheap!) during summer, as that’s when they’re in peak season.

Get your hands on the best beans possible, either from your local farmers market or in bulk at the grocery store. These are typically fresher and sweeter than pre-packaged green beans.

When you’re shopping, look for beans with a vibrant green color and smooth pods. Bon Appetit recommends avoiding green beans that are very large, wide, and/or thick because they tend to taste bitter and mealy.

Want to use French green beans (haricot verts)? Go ahead, but cook them for 2 minutes less, as they’re more tender than regular green beans.

Cherry tomatoes 

Just like the green beans, you need the best-quality cherry (or grape) tomatoes you can find, as they’ll make the salsa taste so much better. They too are in season throughout summer and are easy to find at most grocery stores and farmers markets.

Pro tip: The golden cherry tomatoes, like sungold tomatoes, tend to be the sweetest!

Preserved lemon or lemon zest

It wouldn’t be lemon salsa without the lemons! Preserved lemons add a fun, supercharged lemony flavor that will leave your tastebuds wanting more.

If you’re not in the habit of making preserved lemons at home or don’t want to buy preserved lemons (affiliate link), rest assured, you can just use lemon zest instead and the salsa will still be delicious.

Where to buy: You can buy preserved lemons at specialty shops, Middle Eastern markets, and online. Or make them yourself! 

Substitute: Use an equal amount of lemon zest instead (the zest from about 1 large lemon).

Fresh herbs 

You won’t find me without fresh herbs in my fridge, especially in summer. They’re at their finest during the hot summer months and this salsa takes full advantage of their extra bright and herbaceous flavors.

I love basil the most in this recipe, as it pairs so great with the cherry tomatoes and green beans and is in peak season. Feel free to get creative and use parsley or dill, or even throw in a little mint. 

Sumac 

Sumac is a popular Middle Eastern spice and one of my favorite ingredients. It’s bright, tangy, citrusy, and a little earthy. Some say it adds the tartness of lemon juice without the acidity. I like to use it to macerate the shallots in the salsa and for a lovely tart, fruity flavor.

Where to buy: You can buy sumac at well-stocked grocery stores, spice shops, Middle Eastern markets, and online (affiliate link). 

Substitute: Simply omit the sumac if you can’t find it. To replicate its tangy flavor, add a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice to the salsa once it’s ready.

Side view of plate of charred green beans on a red table.

Tips for making this recipe

Mise en place

In other words, prep everything before you start this recipe. Make the salsa, trim the green beans, chop the garlic, and toast the nuts before cooking the green beans. This way, the green beans will still be warm when it’s time to eat.

Leave the beans alone

Once they’re in the wok, leave the beans alone. Letting them sit, undisturbed, is how they will achieve a gorgeous char on the outside. Only stir them once per minute.

Use a wok if you have one

Because of its curved shape, a wok has a higher, more concentrated heat that’s wonderful for charring and searing. It also heats up way faster than a standard pan, helping you get this meal on the table in a hurry!

Don’t have a wok? Use a heavy-bottomed skillet you can use over high heat (like a cast iron skillet or stainless steel skillet, not non-stick).

Double the recipe

This crowd-pleasing meal is sure to be a hit at holidays and special events. The salsa already makes a generous amount, so all you need to do is cook more green beans and garlic (up to 24 ounces of beans) to double the recipe.

The best way to cook a larger batch of green beans is in two separate batches. This way, they’ll char and crisp in the pan instead of steaming.

Repurpose the salsa

This recipe makes a fair amount of lemon herb salsa, allowing you to enjoy it in a ton of other ways! These are some of our ways to indulge:

  • Despite it being far from traditional Mexican-style salsa, the lemon salsa makes for a fantastic snack to enjoy with tortilla chips! 
  • Spoon it over a bowl of rice and lentils for a refreshing twist.
  • Stir some into a vegan yogurt sauce to spoon over beans or use as a base for these 20-Minute Broccoli and Za’atar Chickpeas.
  • Mix it with vegan mayo to use as a creamy and herby sandwich spread. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use instead of pine nuts?

Roasted or toasted almonds or pistachios work great! Just remember to chop them after toasting.

If you have an aversion or allergy to all nuts, use toasted sunflower seeds instead.

I can’t find sumac or preserved lemons. What can I use instead?

Substitute 1 tablespoon of lemon zest for the preserved lemons. The sumac can also be omitted if you can’t find it. Once the salsa is ready, give it a taste, then add lemon juice if you want some tang (sumac is tangy).

How long does this dish last? How should I store it?

If you plan on keeping the leftovers for later, I recommend storing the charred green beans and salsa in separate airtight containers. They’ll both stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days. You’ll want to reheat the green beans in a wok or frying pan to warm and drain the salsa of any accumulated liquid.

If you love these charred green beans with lemon salsa, please leave a rating and review below! It’s always much appreciated :) And tag me on Instagram – I love hearing your feedback.

Overhead view of plate of charred green beans on a red table.

Big Vegan Flavor

Techniques and 150 recipes to master vegan cooking.

Charred Green Beans with Herby Lemon Salsa

5 from 15 votes
These over-the-top Charred Green Beans with Herby Lemon Salsa will delight your tastebuds! Charred and blistered green beans are the star of the show, complimented by a refreshing, gourmet, yet simple lemon salsa on top. It’s a unique side dish that celebrates summer produce!
Prep Time: 22 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Serving size: 4 to 6 as a side

Ingredients

Salsa

  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1 Fresno pepper, diced (see Note 1)
  • 1 tablespoon sumac (see Note 2)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (can substitute red wine vinegar or white vinegar)
  • 8 ounces (230g) best-quality cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon minced preserved lemon peel (can sub with 1 tablespoon lemon zest)
  • 1 cup (16g) basil leaves (or flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems)
  • 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons good-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt and black pepper

Green Beans

  • 1 heaping tablespoon high-heat oil, such as avocado oil
  • 12 ounces (340g) green beans (see Note 3)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup (48g) pine nuts, toasted (or roasted almonds or pistachios, chopped) (see Note 4)

Instructions

  • Mix together the shallots and Fresno pepper with the sumac, vinegar, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Stir very well to combine, and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes, or while you prep everything else, stirring once or twice.
  • Add the cherry tomatoes to a food processor and pulse several times until chopped but not pureed. Pour the tomatoes over a strainer, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and massage the salt into the tomatoes with your hands. Allow the tomatoes to rest and drain while prep everything else.
  • While you wait, do all the other prep. Mince the preserved lemon peel. Sliver the basil. Trim the ends of the green beans (if any beans are very large, cut in half). Finely chop the garlic. Toast the pine nuts.
    a. To toast pine nuts, heat a dry frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the pine nuts and stir or shake the pan from time to time, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until toasty and golden brown.
  • In a bowl, combine the strained tomatoes, macerated shallots, preserved lemon peel, basil, parsley, and olive oil. Season with flaky sea salt and pepper to taste, and toss to combine.
  • Make the green beans. Heat a wok or large, sturdy-bottomed sauté pan over high heat (see Note 5). Once you start to see wisps of smoke, then add the high-heat oil. Then add the green beans with a 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Spread out in a single layer as much as possible and cook undisturbed for 1 minute, or until some beans start to blister.
    a. Cook for a total of 4 to 5 minutes, tossing only every 1 minute to allow charring. When the beans are almost done, add the garlic. Stir fry for 30 seconds, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Take off the heat. Transfer to a serving bowl.
  • Spoon the salsa over the beans and scatter on the pine nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Notes

  1. If you can’t find Fresno peppers, use a jalapeño (they’re not as fruity but work fine and have a similar heat level). For mild heat, remove the membranes and seeds first. 
  2. If you don’t have sumac, omit it. When it’s time to serve, sprinkle some lemon juice on top to taste (for that tart flavor).
  3. You can cook more green beans (up to 24 ounces), but you’ll need to cook the beans in separate batches.
  4. If allergic to nuts, you can use toasted/roasted sunflower seeds or pepitas. 
  5. If using a wok, wait to add the oil until you wisps of smoke (that prevents sticking). If you don’t have a wok, use your largest sturdy sauté pan.

Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 164mg | Potassium: 431mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1117IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 2mg

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5 from 15 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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24 comments on Charred Green Beans with Herby Lemon Salsa

  1. Sharon l Bierd

    5 stars
    Excellent – need I say more. I had everything prepped before cooking which is aust as stir frying doesn’t allow for cutting and chopping – as well things need to be marinated. I can still taste the wonderful flavors! Thanks as always – on the summer rotation for sure!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so happy that the charred green beans turned out well for you, Sharon. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for trying out the recipe!

  2. Laura

    5 stars
    Amazing! Flavor of salsa caught me off guard in the best way. A fresh take on green beans, pun intended.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Laura, thank you so much for your kind review! :)

  3. Rob

    5 stars
    We had a glut of homegrown green and runner beans so used them to make this and it was delicious! So fresh and zingy and really easy to make. I’ve have never have thought to prepare beans like this, so thanks Nisha for another fabulous recipe!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Rob, Thank you for your thoughtful review! We’re so happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe.

  4. Julie

    5 stars
    Have made this salad twice now and is very much appreciated.
    Thanks Nisha

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re delighted to hear it, Julie :)

  5. Bindu Varghese

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe. I usually make a sauted beans dish with onions and tomatoes and am happy with that. But Nisha, your recipe was fabulous. Will make again for sure. Thank you!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so happy that the charred green beans turned out well for you, Bindu. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for trying out the recipe!

  6. MC

    5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious, excellent way to use summer produce. really great and complex flavours. used a Serrano instead of Fresno because we had some already and the heat level was nice. didn’t have preserved lemon but fresh worked perfectly.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, MC! :)

  7. Annie

    5 stars
    What a creative way to cook green beans! And the salsa was top notch!😋😋

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We appreciate your feedback and support, Annie. Thank you for leaving a review! :)

  8. Adele

    5 stars
    This dish was a really nice way to showcase summer produce. I had some heirloom tomatoes and used those instead of cherry tomatoes and it turned out well. The dish overall turned out to be on the more acidic side. I think using the cherry tomatoes the recipe called for next time would help sweeten it up and i used lemon zest but would try to preserved lemon because I think the salty and bit less bright flavor than zest would do well. Will definitely make again when the right fresh ingredients turn up!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re glad you enjoyed the recipe, Adele! And we hope you get the chance to try the recipe with cherry tomatoes and preserved lemons next time. Cheers!

  9. Callan

    5 stars
    What an indulgent way to enjoy green beans! I’d recommend keeping the cook time for the green beans short, so that they keep their crunch. The leftover salsa is delicious on toast!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Callan, it’s great to hear you had success with the recipe. The salsa on toast sounds like a very innovative idea! Thanks for the review :)

  10. Astrid Sperling

    5 stars
    I made these beans tonight and it was the best thing I tasted this summer! I used both basil and parsley and pistachios instead of the pine nuts because that’s what I had and it was amazing. Thanks so much. Will be making this several more times before summer is over.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Astrid, Thank you so much for such a fantastic review! Appreciate you taking the time!

  11. Rei

    5 stars
    I made this for dinner and it was SOOO GOOD. Best green beans I’ve ever had. It really takes green beans to the next level. It’s savory, sweet, tangy, nutty – it’s bomb. Will be making this again when I have guests over.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Your positive feedback is the best reward for our hard work. Thank you, Rei!
      :)

  12. Jacquelyn

    5 stars
    Holyyyyyy this recipe is UNREAL. I made it tonight to go with some white fish and roasted potatoes and wow it was for sure the highlight. So delicious. Thank you so much for this recipe, one of my favourites of yours for sure and my husband and I have made a lot of your recipes! This is a banger, feels like bougie restaurant food.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for such a wonderful review, Jacquelyn! I haven’t gotten the opportunity to try this one yet, but now I’m dying to!

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