Last week we brought Christmas back for round 2. Our good friends spent the Christmas to New Years season
making us jealous vacationing in Florida, so we agreed to celebrate together a few weeks late rather than trying to squeeze it all in at the last minute. Although I was more than happy to see the backside of the holiday season this year, I must admit that it was nice to get together for a little belated holiday cheer. We shared copious amounts of delicious beer that our friends had brought back from the many breweries they had visited down south, snacked on olives and cheese, and exchanged gifts. It was a lovely evening spent with wonderful friends, and it served as a nice reminder that we really needn’t wait for the holidays to get together with friends and family, or even to give a thoughtful gift.
Thinking along these same lines, I’ve realized that gift-giving and merry-making aren’t the only things that only seem to make an appearance during the holidays. There are also several dishes that I only seem to cook during the holidays. Now, some of these only come out once a year or so for good reason. For instance, if I didn’t limit my chocolate bourbon pecan pie to Thanksgiving and Christmas it’s probably all I would eat for the rest of my life. However, there are also some dishes that, while certainly more than deserving of their place on the holiday table, would be more than welcome as part of a regular old dinner. One such dish is my Fancy Green Beans.
This green bean recipe actually came about a few Thanksgivings ago while going over what everyone would be bringing to the family dinner. As I’m sure is typical for most potluck family feasts, all of the vegetable side dishes were loaded with cheese, dairy, and/or breading of some sort. Delicious to be sure, but a bit too much of a gut bomb for even my iron stomach to handle. So in the interest of having something marginally healthy to eat besides the turkey, I volunteered to bring green beans. Despite dressing them up with shallots and almonds, I assumed they’d be passed over for the most part in lieu of the more decadent options, which was just fine with me since I had rather selfishly made them for myself. But to my great surprise, they were a huge hit and I’ve been making them for holiday gatherings ever since. I really don’t know why it’s taken me this long to make them for a non-holiday dinner, but I’m so glad I finally did. With the crisp-tender green beans, almost-caramelized shallots, and crunchy sliced almonds, I think they’ll make a tasty addition to your dinner table as well, be it a holiday or just a regular day.
Fancy Green Beans
When I make these green beans for the holidays, I like to cook them in my dutch oven so that they can go straight from the stove top to the table already in a lovely serving vessel. I also prepare most of the recipe ahead of time stopping just after the shallots have gotten a little crunchy. Then when it’s just about time to eat, I put the dutch oven back on the stove, heat the shallots up until they start to sizzle again, and continue with the rest of the recipe. This way I get most of the work done ahead of time but I avoid the sad, limp veggies that usually result from heating up already cooked green beans. Also, I’m sure you’ll notice that I use quite a bit of olive oil and butter here, this being a recipe that I use mainly for celebrations. Feel free to reduce the amount if you like. They’ll still be delicious.
1/2 c sliced almonds
2 T olive oil
1 T butter (replace with additional olive oil for a vegan dish)
6 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut
Toast the almonds over medium heat in a dry skillet until fragrant with a few brown spots beginning to appear. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat the olive oil, butter, shallots, and salt over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until shallots are very soft and just beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Turn up the heat to medium-high and cook a few minutes longer, just until the shallots begin to get a few crunchy spots.
Add the toasted almonds to the skillet with the shallots. Stir to combine and cook for a minute or so. Add the green beans and cook for just a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the green beans are crisp-tender.
Serves: 4, as a side