French potato and green bean salad

French Potato and Green Bean Salad with Tarragon
Makes 8 to 10 servings

Tarragon embellishes this salad with a distinctly French touch. The types of potatoes usually found in France are similar to our Yukon Golds or small red potatoes, rather than russets, which I don't recommend here. Be sure to add the dressing to the potatoes while they are still warm; they'll absorb more flavor.


  • 2½ pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and halved
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • ¾ cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 6 green onions, minced
Crème Fraîche-Tarragon Dressing


  • ½ cup mayonnaise (light is okay)
  • ½ cup crème fraîche or light sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. For the dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, crème fraîche, tarragon, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.

  2. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the green beans, and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, until just tender but still bright green. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool quickly. Drain well on paper towels.

  3. Steam the potatoes until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 15 to 17 minutes. When cool enough to handle (but not fully cooled), peel the potatoes and cut into 1-inch dice.

  4. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes (while they're still warm) with the dressing, green beans, celery, sweet onion, and green onions. Toss gently to mix.

  5. Cover the salad with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes. Taste the salad again before serving, adding more salt or pepper to taste. If the salad seems a bit dry, stir in a little more olive oil before serving.
Do-Ahead Tips: The dressing can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated. The salad is at its best made at least 30 minutes before serving, so flavors can meld; a day in advance is even better. Serve the salad at room temperature; too cold, and the flavors will be dulled. If the salad has been refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Taken from "Memorable Recipes to Share with Family and Friends" by Renee Behnke with Cynthia Nims.

Zippy Gazpacho
Makes 8 servings

Gazpacho is one of the wonderful signature dishes of Spain. I've been exploring the country by way of its cuisine-fueled by a few wonderful trips in recent years-which has included trying many different versions of gazpacho. This is a more traditional tomato- and vegetable-based example. I often use a mix of both regular and spicy V8 juice for a little extra zip in the chilled soup. I prefer to add the reserved chopped vegetables to each bowl as a colorful garnish, but you could instead stir them into the puréed soup before chilling. If you're using English cucumbers, there is no need to peel and seed them. For regular cucumbers, halve them lengthwise and run the tip of a small spoon down the center of each half to remove the seeds. Peel the cucumbers after seeding, rather than before as the skin will help you hold the cucumber more securely. Cold poached shrimp or crisp croutons would be a great final addition to the soup.


  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cucumber, seeded, peeled, and finely diced
  • 1 beefsteak tomato, seeded and finely diced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1½ tablespoons pressed or minced garlic
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 2 ½ cups V8 vegetable juice
  • ¼ cup plain dried bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño chile
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large bowl, combine the bell peppers, onion, cucumber, tomato, parsley, and garlic and stir well to evenly blend. Scoop out about half of the mixture and set aside. To the rest, add the tomato juice and V8. In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, olive oil, vinegar, jalapeño, Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt, and pepper.

  2. Working in batches, blend the tomato juice/vegetable mixture in a blender, adding some of the bread crumb mixture with each batch to be sure that it is thoroughly incorporated. Transfer all of the soup to a large bowl and blend well. Refrigerate the soup and the reserved vegetables for at least 2 hours before serving.

  3. To serve, ladle the chilled soup into individual shallow bowls and spoon the reserved vegetables into the center of each. Pass the Tabasco bottle separately, in case your guests would like a bit more spicy flavor.
Do-Ahead Tips: The soup can be made up to 2 days in advance; note it is best if allowed to sit for at least 2 hours so flavors can meld. Be sure to stir well before serving.

Taken from "Memorable Recipes to Share with Family and Friends" by Renee Behnke with Cynthia Nims.

About Renee Behnke:
Food was an important part of Renée Behnke's childhood; every family meal and food-related excursion left a lasting impression on her. As an adult, she frequently traveled across the country for work, gaining exposure to new food, people, and cultures from around the world that motivated her to try new dishes at home with family and friends. Renée and her husband, Carl, purchased the original Sur La Table store in Seattle's Pike Place Market in 1995. Renée was the president of Sur La Table from 1995 to 2004, and her travel opportunities buying products took her around the globe. Today she is the president emeritus of Sur La Table, which has grown to more than 75 stores nationwide and 22 cooking class programs. She is on the advisory committees for the International Housewares Association Show and the Gourmet Products Show. She also works with foreign agencies to organize food tours in various countries such as Spain, France, Italy, India, and Vietnam.

Renee's Events:

Omnivore Books on Food
Book Signing
3885a Cezar Chavez Street
San Francisco
5:30 pm, June 9

Book Passage
Book Signing
Ferry Building
San Francisco
6 pm, June 10

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