Mexican Green Beans

It’s summer, and the same old green beans doesn’t sound appealing? Try these Mexican Green Beans with fresh tender crisp green beans, red onion, and cotija, dressed up with a simple cilantro lime dressing and toasted pepitas. It’s a perfect side with a Mexican vibe!

A white salad bowl of Mexican green beans with crumbled cotija, red onion, pepitas, and cilantro-lime dressing with a bright print napkin.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – Recipe Inspiration

I wax poetic about Rick Bayless’ bold Mexican flavors and the creativity of his recipes, and have followed him for close to 20 years. I am always for new and creative ways to prepare ingredients we regularly include in our diet.

I’m guessing Mexican and green beans don’t naturally connect for you? They didn’t for me. In perusing my new Bayless cookbook Mexican Everday, I was tickled to find his Green Bean Salad with Red Onion and Salsa Dressing. His recipe inspired my Mexican Green Bean Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing.

I took some liberty with his salad recipe, and while mine resembles his, it is not a replica. I love the added texture of toasted pepitas, and salty crumbled cotija. My cilantro-lime dressing is essentially the same.

I highly recommend taking the additional step of soaking the thin-sliced red onion in ice water and salt. You’ve seen this method before in my Peruvian salsa criolla. This process removes some of “the bite” of the onions!

📋 Ingredients Notes

Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.

Ingredients for green bean salad: green beans, salsa verde, cilantro, cotija, pepitas, olive oil, lime, red onion.

Salad

  • green beans – I love haricots verts (thin green beans) in this green beans salad. Of course regular fresh green beans are fine!
  • red onion – I highly recommend taking the time to soak the red onion in salted ice water. This step removes some of the sharp bite of the onion.
  • aged cotija – I use aged cotija. Not all cotija is aged. It is salty and crumbly, so feta is the best substitute. You can use regular cotija and queso fresco.
  • toasted pepitas – Toasted pine nuts are another good option.

Cilantro-Lime Dressing

  • olive oil
  • salsa verde – Either homemade or purchased salsa verde is fine.
  • lime juice – Fresh squeezed lime juice (not bottled) is important in salad dressings!
  • cilantro – Leaves and young stems are fine. The thicker stems are bitter.
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper

🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions

Process shots for the green beans salad - red onions in a salted ice water bath, dressing ingredients before and after processing, and steamed green beans in a small saucepan.
  1. Prepare the red onions – This step is totally worth the time! Thin slice the onions and add to an ice water bath with salt for 30 minutes. This reduces the sharp “bite” of the onions and mellows them.
  2. Prepare the dressing – Add dressing ingredients to the bowl of a small food processor.
  3. Purée the dressing – Pulse/process the dressing ingredients until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Steam the green beans – Add the green beans to a saucepan with about 1 cup of water. Steam the green beans 3-5 minutes according to preference. Alternatively, you can use an electric steamer. Salt the green beans to taste.
  5. Finish the green bean salad – Add salad ingredients to a large bowl, toss with cilantro-lime dressing, and garnish with additional pepitas and cotija as desired.

❓FAQ

What is cotija?

There are two main types of cotija: a younger, fresher cheese and an aged version. I prefer the aged cotija for this green beans dish. The aged cheese may have the texture of parmesan and the tang of feta. The younger cotija may have the texture of feta but will be milder in flavor.

What kind of cheese can I substitute for cotija?

Feta cheese is a great substitute because it has that salty tang of aged cotija.

Are these Mexican green beans good left over?

We think so! If you don’t think you’ll eat it all, you may wish to hold off on the pepitas and cotija, and toss them in at the last minute to preserve their texture. We keep our leftover bean salad in the fridge for about 2 days, and it’s still delicious!

💭 Tips

I love haricots verts in this salad! These are young, thin green beans. Of course you can use regular green beans as well. You’ll want to steam them to your desired tenderness and the thickness of your beans. I use haricots verts (quite thin), and let them steam about 5 minutes. They’re crisp-tender.

🍷 Pairing Suggestions

This Mexican green beans salad is part of a menu that includes chamoy glazed salmon and charred corn. The combination of these three healthy and quick dishes makes a perfect warm-weather meal! You might also consider this salad alongside this fish dish, or these pork chops

A red ceramic bowl with green beans salad, chamoy glazed salmon, and charred corn.
Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

A white ceramic bowl of Mexican green bean salad with a bright print napkin and a silver spoon.

Mexican Green Beans Recipe

A simple fresh green beans side dish with red onion, cotija, and toasted pepitas tossed with a cilantro-lime dressing…
5 from 4 votes

Click to rate!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dishes
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 to 6
Calories 229 kcal

Ingredients
  

Cilantro-Lime Dressing

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup salsa verde - see Tips
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves - small stems okay
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • several grinds pepper

Green Bean Salad

  • 16 ounces haricots verts - young green beans
  • ½ large red onion - very thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces cotija - crumbled or grated
  • ¼ cup toasted pepitas

Instructions

  • Prepare the red onions – This step is totally worth the time! Thin slice the onions and add to an ice water bath with salt for 30 minutes. This reduces the sharp "bite" of the onions and mellows them.
  • Prepare the dressing – Add dressing ingredients to the bowl of a small food processor.
  • Purée the dressing – Pulse/process the dressing ingredients until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Steam the green beans – Add the green beans to a saucepan with about 1 cup of water. Steam the green beans 3-5 minutes according to preference. Alternatively, you can use an electric steamerSalt the green beans to taste.
  • Finish the green bean salad – Add salad ingredients to a large bowl, toss with cilantro-lime dressing, and garnish with additional pepitas and cotija as desired.

Nutrition

Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 22g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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