Thursday, July 5, 2012

Simple Green Beans with Olive Oil, Pine Nuts, and Lemon Zest

When veggies are at their most ripe, picked the same day, thick and juicy with a crunch that can only mean summer is here, you really don't have to dress them up all that much. The flavor of sunshine and warm weather produces a sweetness unique to the soil and the land that they were grown in. It's these times that I feel really lucky to live in New England.
Fresh green beans
So when those fat, lovely green beans showed up at the Dewey Square Farmers Market, I was like a moth to the flame. I picked up two varieties, your classic green, and these pretty dark purple ones that I had never had before. The lady at the stand delighted in the purchase of the purple, boasting that she had picked them just that morning. I thought that was just wonderful. And so I started searching for this recipe and that online, finding recipes for Schezwan green beans, and tempura green beans, before stopping at the most simple recipe, and adapting slightly according to the ingredients that I had on hand. So to replicate you'll only need a few things:

  • A little over a pound of fresh green beans
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts
  • 4 teaspoons of olive oil
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Simple right? Here are your few steps.
Purple green beans
1. Snap off the ends of the green beans, just like your grandma used to do. Proceed to diagonally cut them into 1/2" pieces. If you're as lucky as I had been, and have been able to get your hands on some purple green beans, I'm sure you'll delight in seeing the brilliant contrast of the green of the inner bean compared to that of the dark skin after prepping each long bean into bite-sized pieces.
2. Heat a big pot of salted water until it boils, and dump in your pretty green beans. After about four to five minutes, the beans should be tender, while still retaining some of their crunch. You'll also notice that the dark purple outside has vanished, leaving only the hue of the bright green of the inside. Drain your beans when they're cooked to your liking.
Zest of two lemons and
olive oil
3. Mix up your dressing. Zest the lemons on a microplane zester, mince a couple tablespoons of fresh flat leaf parsley, and combine. Allow the flavor to meld for a few moments in some good olive oil.
Toasted pine nuts
4. Toast your pine nuts. I find that heating a frying pan, throwing in the little nuts, and mixing them round for about two minutes usually releases the oil, browns the outside nicely, and leaves you with the most savory wonderful aroma wafting through your kitchen.
5. Toss everything to mix in a large bowl and add salt and pepper to your liking.
Green beans with pine nuts,
olive oil and lemon zest
This simple little dish is so satisfying. The green beans are sweet, juicy, and just a touch bitter, mingling with the savory, meaty crunch of those little toasted pine nuts, and then the tang of lemon zest, all coating your mouth via a good splash of sweet olive oil. It's amazing how simple and quickly you can prepare this dish, and what a fresh, summer side dish it is to bring to any barbecue. Let's all hear it for the miracle of a fresh picked green bean allowed to ripen properly on the vine. 

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