Friday, September 26, 2014

Bon Appetit, Ya'll!

I love checking out cookbooks from my local library. It keeps my bookshelves from overflowing and allows me to try some of the recipes before I may decide to purchase the book. When I saw Bon Appetit, Ya'll: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking by Virginia Willis, I just had to check it out! I tried many recipes in the book, including the one for Jambalaya (which does have an error in it), but the recipe I keep going back to is a simple one for "Toasted-Pecan Green Beans." 

When we think of southern style green beans, we assume it's the meltingly tender ones that are slow cooked, usually with some type of pork product and onion. Although I love them, my green bean-phobic husband does not...but he loves these! This simple recipe is like a southern version of green beans amandine, where the green beans are blanched first, then sauteed with buttery toasted pecans, minced garlic, and a dash of fresh basil. The result is perfectly cooked green beans that taste absolutely amazing! In addition, this technique (which works well with other types of vegetables, see Spring Vegetable Tumble) allows you to blanch the beans ahead of time, freeing your focus to the main course, and gives you a beautiful side dish that takes only minutes to put together! Thanks Virginia, for giving me my green beans back!


Toasted-Pecan Green Beans

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds haricots verts, trimmed (Sadly, I am finding it harder to locate haricots verts in my area, so I used regular green beans and blanched them for 5 minutes.)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 garlic clove, very finely minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Prepare an ice-water bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil over high heat. Add the beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. (5 minutes for regular green beans.) Drain well in a colander, then set the colander with beans in the ice-water bath (to set the color and stop the cooking), making sure the beans are submerged. (I just dump the beans in the ice-water bath, then drain them before finishing the dish.)

In the same pot (I use a large saute pan), heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the pecans and cook until toasted, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and basil; cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds.


Drain the beans, shaking off the excess water, and return them to the pot. Toss to combine with the pecan mixture. (Keep tossing until the beans are reheated.) Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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