The idea of grilled green beans had never occurred to me until yesterday, when I was contemplating a bag of them from a market haul in the refrigerator, and what to make for dinner. I already had a few beautiful pieces of wild salmon destined for the grill, and the idea of a steamed green bean salad next to the robust taste of the salmon wasn't exciting me much. So I figured, why not let let the green beans join the salmon on the grill?
The real inspiration, though, came when I had already thrown the red onion on the grill and was thinking about how to dress the salad. That's when I flashed back to a restaurant dish I had once: a braised lamb shank served with a grilled lemon half. I remembered the bright, smoky acidity as particularly haunting. Turns out that grilling lemon is surprisingly effective, making it juicier and mellow. Combined with olive oil, it made a wonderful warm dressing that tied everything together.
Grilled Lemon, Green Bean, and Red Onion Salad
- 1 pound tender green beans, stringy ends trimmed
- 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges, root left intact to hold layers together
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small lemon, cut into wedges
- Salt and pepper to taste
Toss the red onion with a tablespoon of the oil and place on the grill over high heat. Cook, turning occasionally, until soft, charred, and caramelized.
In the meantime, toss the green beans with another tablespoon of oil and, using a grill vegetable tray or basket, grill them for 7 to 10 minutes until soft. If the beans are tougher, boil them until half-tender before grilling.
When the green beans and onion are close to finishing, lay the lemon slices carefully on the grill over high heat and cook for 5 minutes, until charred.
Toss the vegetables with remaining oil and squeeze the grilled lemon over everything. Season with salt and pepper.