Salad Days: Garden Fresh Green Beans Make for an Artful Salad

The Bocuse restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America turns out great chefs and farm-fresh food.

Photo by: Image courtesy of CIA/Phil Mansfield

Image courtesy of CIA/Phil Mansfield

Students learn about crop production in the gardens of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

New York City restaurants rarely share the spotlight with the rest of the Empire State, but all eyes were on the Hudson Valley when The Bocuse Restaurant opened at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.

Named in honor of legendary French chef Paul Bocuse, the space is "classroom first and restaurant second," according to Stephan Hengst, marketing director for the CIA. "It exemplifies the ground-breaking philosophy of its namesake by instructing its student staff to think outside the established rules, just as Bocuse did when he embraced innovation and collaboration with fellow chefs." 

Bocuse has always supported seasonality in his kitchens, and that plays out on the plates at the CIA thanks to student-run gardens that teach students how to grow and maintain their own crops. 

"The gardens are small, but they give the student chefs a better idea of how certain crops are grown and how they can be used in restaurants," Hengst says. "The volume is typically not enough to support all the needs of the restaurant, but it's supplemented with locally grown items from a network of more than 30 Hudson Valley growers." 

Bocuse and other iconic chefs including Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Jean-Georges Vongerichten attended the inaugural dinner and feasted on a menu that included Haricots Verts and Mushroom Salad with Walnut and Champagne Vinaigrette. The "haricots verts" (translation: green beans) are grown in season on the CIA campus and are a great addition to any spring planting plans. 

Haricots Verts and Mushroom Salad with Walnut and Champagne Vinaigrette 

Courtesy of The Culinary Institute of America

Serves 8 

½ pound portabella mushrooms, brushed clean, stems removed, and gills scraped off

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt, as needed

Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

¼ cup walnuts halves or pieces

1 teaspoon walnut oil

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 pounds haricots verts (green beans), trimmed

¼ pound cremini mushrooms, brushed clean, quartered

¼ pound maitake mushrooms, brushed clean, stems trimmed (keep the nice leaf shape)

*½ cup walnut and Champagne vinaigrette

¼ pound enoki mushrooms, brushed, stems trimmed, for garnish

Micro radish greens as needed (optional garnish)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. 

Slice the portabella mushrooms ¼ inch thick. Toss them in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Arrange the portabellas in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until tender, approximately 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes, then refrigerate until cold, at least 1 and up to 24 hours before serving the salad.

Arrange the walnuts in a single layer in a small baking pan and toast in the oven until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir the nuts occasionally so that they toast evenly. Immediately transfer to a plate and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a food processor and add the walnut oil, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse the food processor on and off in 3 or 4 short bursts to grind the nuts evenly. Transfer to a bowl and reserve at room temperature. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the haricots verts, stir to separate, and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain the haricots verts in a colander, and then transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and cool them. If the beans are prepared in advance, they can be held in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Combine the cold haricots verts and portabella mushrooms in a salad bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the quartered cremini mushrooms. Sauté, stirring or tossing frequently, until tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer the creminis to the salad bowl.

Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the maitake mushrooms. Sauté, stirring or tossing frequently, until tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer the maitakes to the salad bowl.

Add ½ cup of the vinaigrette and toss until all of the ingredients are evenly coated. Divide among 8 salad plates. 

Garnish the salads with the enoki mushrooms and the micro radish greens, sprinkle the toasted walnut mixture on top of each salad, and serve immediately.

Walnut and Champagne Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

¼ cup Champagne vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt, as needed

Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

9 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons walnut oil

Whisk together vinegar and mustard with a pinch of salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the oils until they are all incorporated and the vinaigrette is smooth and lightly thickened. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. The vinaigrette can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Whisk the vinaigrette just before using to recombine if necessary.

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