Poor green beans are often overlooked – or, worse, stuffed into casseroles where their flavor disappears altogether. Maybe green beans’ ho-hum status comes because, unlike other produce, you can usually find fresh green beans year round. And if those aren’t readily available, you can find them canned or in the freezer section.
So how do you bring out green beans’ flavor without coating them in sauce? First, don’t overcook them. No one likes mushy green beans.
To keep them crisp, in my green beans recipe, I like to blanch them. Never blanched? It’s easy. Bring a gallon of water to a boil in a medium-sized pan add a handful of salt. Wash a pound or so of green beans and snap off the ends. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes – or just until barely tender. Immediately drain them and plunge them into ice-cold water for the same amount of time. Drain.
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One advantage of blanched beans is that they can sit while you’re preparing the rest of your meal. Then, one more quick trip in a saute pan and they’re heated and ready to go along with the rest of your meal.
Now you’re ready to give them a little extra flavor kick! I like a bit of sourness and spice to add some zing to green beans. I saute them with a bit of olive oil that’s been heating with a pinch of red pepper flakes and toss them briefly in the oil. To finish, I squeeze about a 1/2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. (If you don’t have fresh lemon, a flavored vinegar like red wine – or orange champagne works well, too.)
That’s it. Flavorful, bright green beans that will have your family asking for seconds!