Green Beans with Balsamic Date Reduction, Feta and Pine Nuts

Green Beans with Balsamic Date Reduction, Feta and Pine Nuts - Healthy Vegetarian Recipe

I see green vegetables as a blank canvas, just waiting to be decorated. Vegetables on their own can be somewhat boring… steamed, sauteed, grilled… they’re nice, but they lack a “wow” factor unless they have a dressing, sauce, or some other sort of embellishment. I find green beans to be particularly yawn-inducing. Lately, I’ve challenged myself to come up with some more exciting ways to serve them. I usually make them Middle Eastern-style with tomatoes, and more recently discovered they go really well with caponata. With Thanksgiving around the corner and those heavy green bean casseroles with canned soup on many menus (sorry, I’m not a fan), I decided to develop something lighter and more flavorful… something unexpected. This recipe is the result – Green Beans with Balsamic Date Reduction, Feta and Pine Nuts. It’s a long-winded title for a really simple and fabulously festive side dish.

Young, thin green beans are quick-sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper. If you’re using larger beans, feel free to steam them- note about that in the recipe below. Top them with a simple reduction made from soaked dates and balsamic vinegar, which creates a gorgeous plum-colored sweet and tart sauce. Sprinkle the whole thing with salty feta – I like the Israeli block feta sold in many kosher/Middle Eastern markets – and toasted pine nuts. If you have nut allergies (or you’re watching your budget), feel free to substitute toasted sunflower seeds.

Serve warm or at room temperature, depending on your preference. It’s a surprising and delicious symphony of flavors. If you don’t mind serving dairy with meat, or you’re having a vegetarian holiday meal, I think this would make an excellent Thanksgivukkah side dish. :)

Green Beans with Balsamic Date Reduction, Feta and Pine Nuts


  • 1 lb young, thin green beans (if using larger beans, see note at the end of the recipe)
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pinenuts (or sub toasted sunflower seeds)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

You will also need

  • Small saucepan, large nonstick skillet, blender
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: 8-10 side servings
Kosher Key: Dairy
  • Soak dates in warm water for about 10 minutes to soften. In a blender, combine the dates, water, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth.
  • Green Beans with Balsamic Date Reduction, Feta and Pine NutsIn a small saucepot, bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer on low until sauce is reduced and thickened, stirring frequently. It should be thick, but still easy to drizzle.
  • Green Beans with Balsamic Date Reduction, Feta and Pine NutsIn a mixing bowl, toss the green beans with the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Green Beans with Balsamic Date Reduction, Feta and Pine NutsHeat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Pour the olive oil-coated seasoned green beans into the skillet and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until tender-crisp.
  • Green Beans with Balsamic Date Reduction, Feta and Pine NutsToss beans with half of the feta and half of the pine nuts, then transfer to your serving dish. Drizzle with reduction and top with remaining feta and pine nuts.
  • Note: make sure you use young, thin green beans, which cook faster and produce tastier results. If you only have larger green beans on hand, steam them till tender and season with salt and pepper, toss them with feta and pine nuts, then drizzle with sauce (skip the sauté step).
  • Green Beans with Balsamic Date Reduction, Feta and Pine Nuts - Healthy Vegetarian Recipe

Comments (43)Post a Comment

  1. Looks good….what about using a drizzle of date molasses in combo with other ingredients instead of soaking dates? I have that along with pomegranate molasses in my cupboard. Would like other ideas for the date molasses, remember using it as an extra kind of haroset with nuts for Pesach.

  2. Tori, your blog is amazing! I was wondering if you are familiar with a product called : silan, which I believe is a date honey and perhaps could be a substitute for the dates in the recipe. I have recently become obsessed with dates( never really liked them as a kid), so keep those date recipes coming! :)

  3. Can I make this dish ahead of time. I’m not making Thanksgiving but I’d like to bring it as a side dish Sounds really yummy!.

    1. Hi Randy– yes. Saute the green beans and keep them in a Tupperware. Store the crumbled feta, pine nuts and dressing in three separate containers. Assemble the dish just before serving, reheating the green beans if you desire before assembly.

    1. Hi Tammy, I like the feta, but I think it would be good without, too. I would sprinkle the beans with a little extra salt to make up for the missing saltiness of the feta. Enjoy!

  4. Tried this tonight in advance of holidays…

    My beans were thicker, so I microwaved covered in a little water for 4 minutes before sauteing – crispiness worked perfectly.

    Also, my pine nuts were bad, so I substituted slivered almonds, then decided those pair better with crumbled goat cheese than feta. It was so good, my family and I literally licked the plate clean. What a great combination! Definitely a holiday keeper. Thank you, Tori!

  5. I have a bag of haricot vert in the freezer. Do you think I could use the frozen beans if I defrosted them and dried them off first?

    1. Carol it depends on the size– if they are larger beans (frozen beans usually are), just steam them from frozen till heated through, then season with salt and pepper. You can add a little olive oil if you want for flavor as well.

  6. Green beans sound yummy. Saw the Brussel sprout recipe. Any thought how the preparation for the Sprouts would work with Green Beans . Love Green s. Brussel Sprouts not a favorite.

    1. Hi Sandra, if you’re referring to the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Molasses recipe, you can simply sub steamed green beans for the Brussels sprouts– the rest of the recipe would remain the same.

  7. Made these with our early Thanksgiving turkey last night and my husband declared them his new favorite vegetable dish. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe with us!

  8. I made this dish for our Thanksgiving dinner today, and we all loved it! I used a milder, goat feta, and the flavors of all the dish were just perfect. I also used frozen green beans from Trader Joe’s (very thin, like haricots verts), so didn’t saute in olive oil. Just steamed them lightly and topped with the remaining ingredients. I had planned to toss the beans in a bit of olive oil before adding the other ingredients, but forgot — I don’t think it lacked at all, for it. I look forward to using this recipe again and again!

  9. I made this green bean dish during Hanukkah last week. It was a hit! I had plenty of date reduction sauce left for a future meal. It went great with my brisket and latkes. I also made your dreidel candy with the marshmellows and Hershey’s chocolate kisses (for the adults!) Took pictures of the wonderful meal that was a complimentary part of my 8 month old granddaughter Anneliese’s first celebration of Hanukkah. Food really is more than fueling the body for activity; how we prepare our food, how we eat and how we dress the table makes our eating “human”, about building and maintaining relationships, about passing on traditions that bind us and give us an identity. In German, the word “essen” to eat is reserved for humans, while “fressen” (to eat) is reserved for animals. It all reminds me of Leon Kass’ philosophical book “The Hungry Soul: The Eating and Perfecting of Our Nature”.

    Thank you Tori for all your hard work! You recipes, when prepared and served with love, truly are a part of perfecting our relational nature as humans!

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