Sunday, January 9, 2011

Green Beans with Garlic and Almonds

The last few months of sugar and spice have been...well...delicious, but I'm quite aware that the "Battle of the Bulge" begins in January for most people. So, I'm giving you a healthy and fresh recipe this week. No sprinkles, no sugar, no frosting, just a nice vegetable dish that you can use as a side for pretty much anything. 
The best part of this simple dish is the retained crispiness of the beans. Blanching the beans (cooking in boiling water, then transferring them to ice water right away to stop them overcooking) ensures that overcooked, mushy beans are a thing of the past. Nothing here but bright flavors and textures. Here's to good health and happiness in the New Year!

Green Beans with Garlic and Almonds
Alexandra Rogers

1 pounds haricot verts/francais, trimmed and washed (fresh is best, but you can use frozen)
4 cloves or 2-3 tsp. crushed garlic
5 ounces slivered almonds
oil/butter for pan

Prepare one large bowl (or two medium bowls) of ice water and set aside. In a 350 F degree oven, toast almonds for 10 minutes on a sheet pan. Remove from oven and set aside.

Submerge beans in a large pot of boiling water and boil for 4 minutes, until vibrantly green but still crispy. Remove beans from boiling water (with slotted spoon or strainer) and transfer immediately to ice cold water, adding more ice to ice water to maintain cold temperature. Leave beans in ice water for 2-3 minutes, then remove and pat dry with paper towel. 
In a large pan, melt 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Once the oil/butter combination is so hot it sizzles, add the dried, blanched beans to the pan. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring infrequently so you allow the beans to brown a bit in the pan. Stirring frequently interrupts the caramelizing process, so don't do it. Add the crushed garlic and mix into beans thoroughly. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the garlic has begun to soften in smell and flavor. Add the toasted, slivered almonds and transfer to serving dish. Makes 6 healthy servings.

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