Trim the ends off of the beans and drop them into rapidly boiling water. Cook until they are still crunchy, for 5 minutes only, do not overcook.
Drain the beans and cool them with cold water to stop them from cooking further. Then dry the beans off and toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, garlic, bay leaves and salt.
Use a vegetable peeler to remove 4 strips of yellow zest from the outside of the lemon. Be careful to remove just the yellow outermost layer of the rind, leaving the more bitter-tasting white part of the rind alone. Add these to the beans, toss well, and let the salad stand at room temperature for several hours until the flavors merge. (In the meantime, juice the lemon and reserve 1-2 tablespoons of the juice.)
Remove the bay leaves, toss well with reserved lemon juice, and serve.