Friday, September 30, 2011

French Green Beans with Herbs

Its so easy being a french green bean!
Oh boy it's haircot verts! Skinny mini grean beans that are so cute, I want to make clothes and hats for them. Unlikely I ever will because who has that kind of time? Guess I'll have to dress them up with butter and herbs, that's about as fancy as I get.

Haricot verts, aka french green beans, are in season right now along with their thicker counter part, good ole regular green beans. Green beans hold a special place in my vegetable heart, being they are one of the few vegetables I've always loved. Of course I used to only eat green beans when they were smothered in cream of mushroom and had crispy "onions" on top, but now I even eat green beans without the casserole. Not that there is anything wrong with green bean casserole, still being one of my favorites at Thanksgiving. Though now I'm just as happy eating green beans steamed, no cream needed.

I looked at a few different recipes for cooking haricot verts with herbs and they all looked as if they used roughly the same method. Par boil, place in ice bath, cook onions in butter, add the beans and finish with herbs. As far as the herbs go, if you have an herb garden use all the herbs I added. Each herb adds a nice flavor, but don't feel required to use every herb listed below, especially if you fear any unused herb is likely to be trash bound.

For me learning to cook is about being conscious of my food choices. So buying 5 different fresh herbs, using a tablespoon of each and then trashing the rest, is not what I call conscious eating. If you have a plan for the rest of the herbs, rock on, go get a satchel of each; but before you go to the store, think about each item you are buying and what you will be using it for. The waste in this country is frustrating, mostly because people don't think to care. Of course it's annoying to plan all your meals. Food is precious, but the wasteful path we as a society our on is not sustainable. So why not start thinking ahead? Everyone has their own unique excuse of why they "just don't have the time". Food, in one way or another, is essential to most living things survival. Food is literally life, why not treat it with the respect it deserves?
Well that turned it to a bit of tangent, but I hope you think about the ideas behind it. Sometimes I feel discouraged about the future and about the lack of foresight I see in humanity. One meal at a time I suppose.

Getting back to green beans, feel free to use the herbs you have. I used parsley and chives, because those were the only two healthy boyfriend could find at the market. Listed below are all the recommended herbs, but my previous paragraph said enough about using herbs the smart way. This is simple way to serve green beans if you are having guests and want something that looks fancy, but is easy and quick. Cooking the onions first gives them time to caramelize, which obviously adds a light sweetness to the dish. In general I don't go to this much trouble for beans, being happy to eat them steamed, but now I have a go-to side for future dinner guests. Now I just need more guests.....

This recipe is adapted from a few different sources and can be used with traditional green beans. But remember if you get french green beans you can practice saying "Haricot Verts" in the most ridiculous french accent you can think of. Worth it.

French Green Beans with Herbs

The Goods: Serves 4 as side dish
1 pound thin green beans (haricot verts) trimmed
1/2 cup red onion, diced
3 tbsp butter or earth balance
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped fine
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped fine
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon Wedges (optional)

The Deal: 

1. First we blanch (a fancy way to say boil, chill and slowly reheat vegetables): Bring large pot of salty water to a boil. Fill a large bowl of ice with water. Boil the beans for 2-3 minutes until tender but still crispy. Quickly remove beans with slotted spoon and plunge into ice bath to stop cooking and retain the color. Pat dry with cloth or paper towl.

2. In a large saute pan heat butter on medium high heat. Cook onions until translucent about 3-5 minutes. If you desire the onions caramelized cook an additional 2 minutes until lightly browned. Add the green beans, tossing to evenly coat with butter. Cook until tender about 4-6 minutes.

3. Add herbs, salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Cook for an additional minute.

Serve hot with lemon wedges on the side if desired. Eat with your fingers if extra sillyness is needed.

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