Things we love: good food, easy recipes and Molly Baz’s new cookbook, Cook This Book: Techniques That Teach and Recipes to Repeat. Why? Oh, because it’s full of uncomplicated yet delicious recipes and the essential tools and tips that will make you a better cook.
Take this recipe for green beans with garlicky pistachio vinaigrette as an example. Sure, it’s a tasty new way to eat green beans (which are usually served hot), but it’s also a prime lesson in blanching. As Baz explains, green beans are tough and fibrous when raw, so a quick cook in boiling salted water, followed by plunging in an ice bath, will tenderize their texture but preserve that appealing bright green color. The vinaigrette is really just gilding the lily.
Reprinted from Cook This Book. Copyright © 2021 by Molly Baz. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Taylor Peden and Jen Munk. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.
Green Beans with Garlicky Pistachio Vinaigrette
Servings: 4 servings
¾ cup roasted, salted pistachios
1½ pounds green beans, wax beans or Romano beans
1 small garlic clove
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about ⅓ cup)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring 4 quarts water and 1½ cups salt (see note) to a boil in a large pot. Finely chop the pistachios until all the pieces are about the size of a lentil. Trim the ends of the green beans.
2. Cook the Beans: Once the water boils, stir in the beans and cook until just tender but not limp, 5 to 6 minutes. (Taste one and see if they’re done—they shouldn’t be fibrous or tough to chew, but you also don’t want them to be totally lifeless and mushy. Find that happy, snappy medium.) While the beans cook, fill a large bowl with ice and water. Using a spider strainer or tongs, transfer the cooked beans to the ice bath to stop the cooking. Keep them in the ice bath until completely cool.
3. Make the Dressing: Finely grate 1 garlic clove and the zest of 1 lemon into a medium bowl. Cut the zested lemon and a second lemon in half and add the juice from both lemons to the bowl, whisking to combine. Slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking as you go. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season the dressing with salt and lots of black pepper. Stir in the chopped pistachios.
4. Drain and Assemble: Drain the beans, then transfer them to a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. (You want them as dry as possible so as not to introduce any water into the dressing we just made, which will dilute the flavor.) Add the green beans to the bowl of dressing, tossing well to coat. Taste and add more salt and black pepper if you think it needs it. Serve them up! These are best served very cold, so keep them covered and refrigerated until serving if you’re making them in advance.
Note: YES! THAT IS SO MUCH SALT! But the beans are spending only a couple of minutes in the boiling water, and it takes a LOT of salt to penetrate something as fibrous as a green bean. I have tested this outrageous amount of salt, and I promise you, your beans are going to be perfectly seasoned, NOT salty.
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