Green beans: a worthwhile side dish

This traditional French recipe is truly one of the most complimented side dishes I cook. Lemon shallot sauce goes with everything – fish, chicken, beef and lamb.

The beans are delicious warm, at room temperature and even the next day after a night in the refrigerator.

I often make this recipe when cooking a meal for a loved one, and it’s an easy dish to bring to a barbecue. I love that I don’t have to worry about spoiling it because the recipe is vegan.

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You can use thinner green beans or regular trimmed green beans; cooking time will vary slightly depending on the type of bean.

Green beans
For 4 to 6 people

Ingredients:
1 pound green beans, traditional or French, washed and trimmed
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 large lemon, zest and juice
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
Sea salt: 1 teaspoon in the cooking water, ½ teaspoon in the shallot mixture
¾ teaspoon black pepper

Directions:
Wash and cut the fresh beans.

Prepare an ice bath for the beans – simply fill a large bowl with cold water and add a handful or two of ice cubes.

Bring a large saucepan half-filled with water to a boil.

When the water boils quickly, add 1 teaspoon of sea salt before adding the beans all at once. The water will take a few minutes to come back to a boil.

Cook the beans so that they are cooked but still firm and bright in color. With thinner green beans, I start checking them at about 6 minutes into cooking. Larger green beans need a little longer, so start checking texture and color after about 8 minutes. You want to get them to the point where they’re not raw but also not go for the darker green tone of canned beans. I check them once a minute by tasting them – think al dente pasta in texture.

When ready, drain them immediately and place them in the ice bath.

Meanwhile, finely chop the shallots.

Place a sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil.

Let the oil heat up for a minute before adding the shallots.

Stay close to the stove at this stage as the shallots need to be stirred regularly. They usually take 8-10 minutes to brown well, and it’s worth taking a few extra minutes of cooking time for the color to change from translucent to caramelized.

Zest a whole lemon before squeezing it.

Stir in the fresh parsley, salt and pepper.

Cook for one minute before adding the lemon zest, stirring continuously for about 25 seconds, until fragrant.

Remove from the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Strain the beans from the ice bath and place them in the pot with the shallot mixture.

Toss with tongs until beans are evenly coated in oil. I test the taste at this point – if I think it needs a little more zing, I add another tablespoon of lemon juice or a little more sea salt.

This recipe takes about 25 minutes in total and is an easy recipe to prepare while you cook your main dish.

You can cover the beans and reheat them, or serve at room temperature.

Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.