Perfect ingredients are Maximin's tools as he transforms simple food into unforgettable meals. In trying to re-create his salad of fresh local haricots verts and tomatoes tossed with young, green hazelnuts gathered from a tree in his backyard, we found it best to follow Maximin's cooking philosophy—use only what is fresh and beautiful—rather than adhering rigidly to his recipe.
1 lb. haricots verts or green beans, trimmed
1/2 cup green hazelnuts, skins removed,
or mature blanched hazelnuts
3/4 cup crème fraîche
1 tbsp. red-wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 cups mixed baby greens
(such as bibb, mâche, or romaine)
4 leaves fresh basil
1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add haricots verts or green beans and cook until tender, 5–8 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, then set aside, wrapped in a dish towel.
2. If using green hazelnuts, coarsely chop and set aside. If using mature hazelnuts, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add hazelnuts to the dry skillet, and toast, turning, until golden, 5–7 minutes. Remove, coarsely chop, and set aside.
3. For dressing, place crème fraîche in a medium bowl. Whisk in vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, stir gently, then set aside for 10 minutes, allowing tomatoes to flavor and color the dressing.
4. To assemble, toss greens in a medium mixing bowl with about 2 tbsp. dressing, then evenly divide between 4 plates. Transfer haricots verts, or green beans, to bowl, add about 1/2 cup dressing, and toss to coat. Arrange haricots verts on top of greens. Spoon remaining dressing over salads taking care that a few diced tomatoes are on top of each one. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and garnish with basil leaves.