August 7, 2008
Not Your Mama's Green Beans
Green beans...Perhaps not the most exciting ingredient, but it doesn't have to be that way. When I found out that the ingredient for this week's garden party at Dinner Tonight was green beans I was momentarily stumped and I knew my normal, boring way of making them was not going to cut it here, but then my mind kicked into high gear and I came up with several ideas.
But first let's discuss how I DON'T Like green beans...And this is a very important thing to understand from my point of view.
As a child growing up in the South the way you would most likely see green beans is cooked until they are almost mush, which I have to give my mom credit, she somehow managed to never let them go that far, or in some sort of green bean casserole or salad, neither of which I am a fan. Another way that I don't care for green beans is steamed...If you bite into it and it's still crunchy (not to mention waxy!) then I'm not interested. These are simply not the way I like green beans.
Now let's talk about how a green bean should be...
A green bean should be tender, but not mushy and the standard way of cooking them is pretty boring...A little water, some salt and pepper and cook until tender, but as I mentioned above, and most importantly, not mushy! Yawn! I'm bored just typing that sentence! At first I thought about making some risotto with green beans, but then I decided that wasn't the way I wanted to go. I usually add green beans to soups too, but that wasn't the direction I wanted to go either.
So I started wondering is there was a way to cook the green beans in a skillet, with a few key ingredients to give them a fabulous flavor, that would give you a tender bean, without it being too crisp or letting it get too mushy, and this stir "fry" what I came up with and I'll readily admit this is not the healthiest option (though I did lighten it up a bit by using center cut bacon instead of the version with more fat), but as a sometimes food we're talking pure heaven! And sometimes you need a little heaven...Even if it does just come on a plate! ;oP
What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped fine
2 pieces of center cut bacon, chopped or cut into pieces (Note: Regular bacon will work too, but you might need to drain off some of the fat. Center cut bacon tends to be a lot less fatty than its counterparts.)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
2-4 cups of whole green beans (Note: This is a nice bunch in your hand, but if you want to measure it exactly grab a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup and stand the green beans up in the cup and repeat this twice. If it's full you've got roughly the right amount, but there is really no way to go wrong here.)
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot add olive oil and cook shallots and bacon until bacon is crisp and shallots are slightly caramelized. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute before adding green beans. Cook the green beans 5-8 minutes until tender, but not falling apart. Serve immediately.
Notes: Some grated Parmesan cheese would be great on top of these beans! If you don't have shallots red onion will work fine. Another substitution you could make would pancetta for the bacon.
Posted by Dianne at August 7, 2008 7:10 AM
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OH HEAVENS. Those beans look so good! Green beans and bacon are just so good together, and "tender but not falling apart" is the best way to eat them. I always blanch green beans and then toss them in a skillet of hot butter or bacon fat until they're just right. Whatever.....just so they look and taste like yours!
Posted by: Lori at August 7, 2008 7:40 AM
Looks good! We have a really good recipe that we use with fresh green beans..........cook your beans in a pot of chicken broth till el' dente. Drian. Saute a whole bunch of slivered garlic in a little oil. (careful not to burn!) mix in with the beans. Then sprinkle as much Parmesan cheese as you like!
Posted by: Esther at August 7, 2008 8:01 AM
I have to admit I had never tried green beans and bacon together before, but I definitely liked the combo!
I like the idea of blanching the green beans first...Why didn't I think of that? ;oP
Posted by: Dianne at August 7, 2008 10:49 AM
yummy! I'm definitely going to make this!
Posted by: Moni at August 7, 2008 8:40 PM
Hope you enjoy them! I was really pleased with how they turned out! :o)
Posted by: Dianne at August 8, 2008 9:43 AM
Followed you here via Debz twitter! Thank you for this recipe! I cannot get my head around green bean casserole, and I used to think I didn't like them at all - but crisp and with bacon - well this just might be a little bit of heaven on the plate - will be trying these for sure.
Any tips on getting a 3 year old to eat 'em? ;)
Posted by: Annie at August 10, 2008 6:46 PM
I was really pleased with the way they turned out!
As for a three year old...I have to admit green beans are on of the few vegetables Alexis won't eat. She's usually completely on the veggie boat, but I've never been able to win her over to green beans! :o)
Posted by: Dianne at August 11, 2008 2:40 PM