Susan Spungen's Triple-Sesame String Beans
May 30, 2023

Susan Spungen's Triple-Sesame String Beans

I was lucky to get to know Susan a few years back, at a weekend baking and cooking workshop she hosted in her home. I was blown away by her talent, generosity for welcoming us all into her home, and experiencing first hand her love for locally grown, seasonal produce. Susan took us to her local CSA farm, where we harvested organic produce for a weekend's worth of meals, enjoyed with a bunch of other foodies, some of whom I now count as close friends. 
I'm thrilled to share one of my personal favorite recipes from the book, these Triple-Sesame String Beans. I can't think of a better cookbook to get inspired for a summer of cooking and entertaining! 


"This recipe was inspired by the delicious sesame sauce for goma-ae, the simple Japanese side of cold spinach (or another vegetable). I’ve added multiple ingredients to make it saucier and sesame-er. Though tahini is not generally used in Japanese cooking, it’s right at home here, reinforcing the other sesame notes in the sauce, and adding creaminess. Slicing green beans lengthwise (Frenching them) makes them supple like noodles, and exposes more surface area so they readily absorb the flavors of the sauce."


2 tsp kosher salt
12 oz green beans, trimmed 
2 tbsp sesame seeds, preferably unhulled, plus 2 tsp more for garnish 
1½ tsp sugar, preferably superfine
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or more to taste 
1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp Seed + Mill Organic Tahini
1 tbsp white miso
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
1 tbsp water
Big handful fresh shiso, basil, or mint, shredded (about ½ c) 
Flaky salt


  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add the salt. Drop the green beans into the pot, return to a boil, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until bright green. Drain and refresh in a bowl of ice water. When cool, drain again and pat dry on a double thickness of paper towels. Cut each bean in half lengthwise. They don't have to be perfect, and don't bother slicing any tiny ones.
  2. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and toast, tossing frequently until a shade darker and smelling toasty, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside 2 teaspoons for the garnish.
  3. Transfer to a bowl to cool slightly, then use a food processor (preferably a mini one) or a mortar and pestle to grind the seeds to a coarse powder (it should retain some texture). Return the seeds to the bowl and mix in the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, tahini, miso, sesame oil, and water.
  4. Pour the dressing over the green beans just before serving. Toss in the herbs and sprinkle flaky salt and the reserved sesame seeds over top.

You can use sugar snap peas, either in combination with string beans or on their own. Sliver them lengthwise before cooking until they turn bright green, which will take only about 10 seconds.

If you want to prep this salad ahead of time, cook the beans as directed and refrigerate, wrapped in paper towels, until ready to serve, and make the sauce too. Combine the beans, sauce, and herbs just before serving.