My favorite kind of green bean is not green at all but pale yellow streaked with purple, appropriately called Dragon’s Lingerie. It’s always been one of the beans the farm I work for grows and sells at the market, and I never miss a chance to say it out loud when they’re for sale. There’s nothing like making a buttoned-up New Englander blush with the mention of underwear, especially when you’re talking about something as mundane as a bean. There are other varieties, too: a skinny dark purple bean the color of eggplant, bright yellow wax beans, traditional green haricots verts. And why are these all “green” beans? The name refers not to the color, but to the maturity. All green beans, no matter their color, are in fact young beans.
For years I blanched my beans and tossed them in butter. But then I came across this method, brought into print by Food 52’s Genius Recipes, written by Kristen Miglore. There’s no water involved, and the beans get crispy and crunchy around the edges and incredibly creamy in the middle. She adds garlic right at the end of cooking, a delicious way to finish them. Here I go traditional with a little browned butter and a handful of toasted almonds. They’re as good on an ordinary quick summer dinner table as they are on a Thanksgiving spread. If you’re buying your beans in the store, they’re probably green, and that’s okay, too. Gather the beans in a handful and slice off their tops and tails. If your beans are fresher or you picked them yourself, just top them. You can leave the tail end on.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 2½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound green beans (any variety or any color)
- ½ lemon
- ¼ cup sliced or roughly chopped almonds
- ½ teaspoon large flake sea salt, such as Maldon
- Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the beans and cook, stirring frequently, until they color and blister in spots, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet, and continue to cook, stirring and peeking in on them every so often, until the beans are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the beans to a serving bowl and return the skillet to medium heat. Gently squeeze the lemon over the beans.
- Melt the remaining 1½ tablespoons of butter over medium heat in the same skillet. Continue to heat it, keeping a close eye on the pan, until the butter turns golden and smells nutty, 2 to 5 minutes. Pour the butter over the beans and return the skillet to the heat. Toast the almonds in the pan, shuffling constantly, until a few almonds show color, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the almonds over the beans and sprinkle with the large flake salt.