After my last lengthy post, I wanted to switch gears and share a simpler dish that has become an absolute staple of ours these last few months. It’s a recipe based off of one I first read about on one of my favorite blogs, Food Loves Writing (and I don’t just say that because Shanna and Tim are former authors of mine—shoutout to einkorn!—and truly great people), but because their blog is full of inspiring stories, recipes, and photos alike. Case in point: Tim’s Italian-Style Green Beans, which call not for blanching or pre-cooking the beans, as almost all green bean recipes do, but rather slow-cooking them on the stove from start to finish, in a luxurious bath of olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes.
Intrigued, I gave it a try (skipping the tomatoes because I had none) and upping the garlic because we’re allium fiends around here. And… they were the best damn green beans I ever had. I don’t know why I had always assumed cooking green beans for too long would make them tasteless (school cafeteria flashbacks, maybe?), but in this recipe at least, the opposite is true.
I’ve made them for both Thanksgiving and Christmas (I think they might be replacing all the holiday green bean recipes that came before them), and nearly every week here at home. Suraj and I could finish the entire batch in one sitting.
In terms of choosing what green beans to use, I love the frozen haricots verts (thin green beans) from Whole Foods. They’re organic (which is important to me in this case because conventional green beans are high in pesticides); they’re washed, trimmed, and ready to use; and they’re even cheaper than fresh, at around $2.30 for a 1-lb bag, but just as nutritious. Can’t beat that. You don’t even need to thaw them. Just toss ’em straight from the bag into the warm, garlicky love bath that awaits them.
Slow Cooked Garlic Green Beans
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
5 to 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 1-lb package trimmed green beans, fresh or frozen (unthawed)
You’ll want to choose a large pot with a lid for this. I use my le Creuset dutch oven (pictured above), as I do for nearly everything. It is indispensable, and particularly great when stuck using an electric range, as the weight of the pan keeps the heat/burner at a more steady level.
Cover the bottom of the pan by about 1/4 inch with olive oil and turn the heat to medium-low. Let the oil warm up for a minute or so, but don’t let it get too hot. You don’t want the garlic to brown or burn when it’s added, just sizzle lightly.
Add the garlic and however big a pinch of red pepper flakes as you like. Let everything swim around in there for a minute or so, adjusting the heat as needed. Again, you don’t want it to brown at all, but rather just bathe in the oil and perfume it with garlic.
Add your beans. I don’t even thaw the frozen ones (if they’re a little icy on the outside, just pat them dry first). Stir to coat and distribute the garlic and oil.
Turn up the heat to medium (this is a 5/10 on my dial), cover, and allow the beans to cook for at least 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. This long, slow cooking process helps infuse the beans with the garlicky oil. If your beans are larger, this will take longer—upwards of 40 minutes if you’re using fresh, thick-style green beans. They’ll eventually slacken and lose a bit of their bright green hue, but I assure you their flavor will more than make up for it. Some will even get some browned edges; these are the ones you’ll want to hide away for yourself only.
Toward the end of your cooking, add kosher salt to taste. Green beans need quite a bit of salt, so don’t be shy. I add a good teaspoon at least.
Serve with rice, roast chicken, or whatever you like. I particularly love these Asian-style, with soaked* brown rice, a few peanuts, a dash of tamari (soy sauce), and a fried egg. Minus the egg, that’s what going on in the top photo.
[*I always soak my brown rice overnight, before cooking, to help break it down and make it easier to digest. To do so: cover the uncooked grains with filtered water and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar. Soak overnight, then rinse, drain, and cook as normal. If you’re using white rice, you can skip this completely—it has no outer bran, so nothing needs to be broken down.]