In the classic version of this Italian salad, beans are slow-cooked until uniformly softened. In this interpretation, multiple varieties are plunged briefly into boiling water until almost tender yet still crisp, to emphasize their exceptionally fresh taste, color, and texture.
- 6 cups water
- 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 piece (1/2 inch) cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 oregano sprig
- 3/4 pound fresh cranberry beans, shelled (about 1 cup)
- 4 ounces haricots verts (green, yellow, or a combination), trimmed
- 4 ounces green beans, trimmed
- 4 ounces wax beans, trimmed
- 4 ounces flat Italian beans (green, yellow, or a combination), trimmed
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Make the beans: Stir together water, 2 teaspoons salt, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and oregano in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add cranberry beans. Return to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.
Prepare an ice-water bath. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add remaining tablespoon salt. Working with one variety at a time, blanch remaining beans in boiling water until crisp-tender (about 1 1/2 minutes for haricots verts; 2 1/2 minutes for larger beans). Using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Drain.
Make the dressing: Whisk together mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add vinegar, and whisk until sugar has dissolved. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Whisk in red-pepper flakes and herbs.
Add beans to dressing, and toss. Let stand at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours, tossing occasionally, or marinate in the refrigerator overnight before serving.