This recipe is from The Chef Next Door: A Pro Chef’s Recipes for Fun, Fearless Home Cooking by Amanda Freitag (William Morrow Cookbooks), the chef and Food Network star. Try making the recipe at home and let us know what you think!
Photograph by David Malosh
Green Beans with Toasted Almonds
Makes 3 cups, to serve about 4
It may not be a new idea, but green beans with almonds is a classic that never goes out of style in my house. This is my easy and flavorful spin on the traditional dish that goes with just about anything, but beware—since the first ingredient is one whole stick of butter, it’s certainly not for anyone on a diet!
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup raw sliced almonds
1 pound string beans, trimmed
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
Blanch the string beans in boiling water using the technique included below.
In a 14-inch sauté pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat, letting it get foamy and light brown.
Add the shallots and almonds and toast them in the butter for 1 to 2 minutes, or until warmed through and coated with the butter.
Add the beans and use tongs to toss them around in the pan. Season with the salt and a crack of pepper.
This dish is great when served family-style on a large platter. Serve a heaping pile of green beans, topped with the almonds, shallots, and brown butter.
Basic Blanched Vegetables
I’m sure if you’ve ever watched Chopped or almost any other food TV show, you’ve seen chefs blanch and then “shock” their cooked vegetables before using them in a dish. Blanching (cooking quickly in boiling water) gives vegetables a head start on cooking, while shocking them in ice water instantly stops the cooking and allows the vegetable to retain its vibrant color and perfectly cooked texture. The importance of blanching your vegetables should not be underestimated; what seems like an extraneous step actually ends up saving you time and chaos when you’re putting together your final dish or meal. Think of it as heavy-duty mise en place. The heavy pot of boiling water will be off the stovetop and the veggies will be sitting nicely cooked and colorful ready to be sautéed, dressed, grilled, or whatever their final cooking destiny may be.
Bring 1 gallon salted water to a boil in a large pot.
Prepare a large bowl with equal parts ice and water for “shocking” the vegetables.
Trim the fibrous or woody ends from vegetables like broccolini, broccoli rabe, and asparagus. For asparagus, if you’re not sure how far up on the stalk to trim, test one by bending back the end piece. Where it snaps off naturally is where you should cut. Peel or trim as needed for other vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and carrots. Loose peas can just be tossed in!
Place the vegetables in the boiling water. After 45 seconds (exactly), remove them with a slotted spoon, spider, or tongs and plunge them straight into the prepared ice bath. Green vegetables should have a brilliant green color. Once they’re cooled, remove them from the ice water and lay them on paper towels to drain thoroughly.
Note: Blanching and shocking start and stop the cooking process and lock in your desired texture while also helping presentation by encouraging green vegetables to retain their vibrant hue. The same process is applicable to any vegetable that needs a head start before being used in the final recipe. Cauliflower, carrots, and turnips are good examples. Keep in mind that sturdier vegetables like cauliflower and carrots will need a bit longer in order to really precook. If you want crunchy, toothsome vegetables, then the 45-to 60-second guideline is a good rule of thumb. The goal of blanching is never to fully cook, but to partially cook as part of your prep list in the beginning of a lot of recipes.
Reprinted with permission from The Chef Next Door: A Pro Chef’s Recipes for Fun, Fearless Home Cooking by Amanda Freitag (William Morrow Cookbooks).
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