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 they’re not readily available there, 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 green beans crisp 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.

One advantage of blanched beans is that they can sit while you’re preparing the rest of your meal and then one more quick trip in a sauté 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 some sourness and spice to add some zing to green beans. I sauté 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 them I squeeze about a ½ tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. (If you don’t have fresh lemon, a flavored vinegar like red wine or Trader Joe’s orange champagne works well too.)

That’s it. Flavorful, bright green beans that will have your family asking for seconds!

Recipe

Servings: 4-6

Prep time: 20 minutes or less

Ingredients

1 lb. fresh or frozen whole green beans (for frozen, I like haricot vert)

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice (or 1 teaspoon flavored vinegar)

¼ cup slivered almonds

sea salt to taste

pinch of red pepper flakes (or cayenne powder; optional)

Directions

  1. Wash the green beans and trim the ends.
  2. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and bring to a boil (add in a dash of salt).
  3. Submerge the green beans into the boiling water for about 3 minutes.
  4. Drain and immediately place in ice-cold water for 3 minutes. Drain.
  5. In a sauté pan bring the olive oil to medium high heat. Toss in the green beans and almonds.
  6. Saute for 1-2 minutes or just until heated through.
  7. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice. Toss. Serve.
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