As I am still finding my groove here on this blog, I thought that I would try out a technique post, and see if anybody wants me to do more of these. To prepare for this, I tried to come up with the easiest vegetable to cook, but also a vegetable that gets screwed up easily, too: Green Beans.
The following isn’t so much a recipe, as a method for cooking all sorts of vegetables. The same concept can be applied to other vegetables such as carrots, asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli…the list goes on. Choose any seasonings you like and substitute for those I write about here.
1) Trim and wash.
2) Par boil (means partially cook) and shock in ice water.
3) Sauté in butter or oil and season.
Trim and Wash
It’s important that you wash your vegetables and fruits to remove any dirt. Remember, these things grow in the ground! Giving your vegetables a light scrub with a brush (or even your hands) will help remove some of the surface dirt, too. I doubt that this process removes much of the pesticides used to grow conventional fruit and vegetables, but it sure can’t hurt either.
After washing, dry the vegetables, then trim the tips off each end.
Drop the beans into a pot of boiling salted water. The water should be salty, like tasting sea water. This will help bring out the taste of the beans. Boil for 90 seconds, then remove from the boiling water and place into a bowl of ice water. This will stop the cooking process.
Once the beans are cool, drain and dry. Up to this point, you can put them in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator for a day or two in advance.
Why Par Boil? Par boiling vegetables helps them retain their color during the cooking process, helps lock in their flavor, and gives you a means of fully cooking them without a lot of time in the pan. They will be tender and delicious!
Add a small amount of butter or oil (one tablespoon) to a sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. When hot, add shallots and garlic (alternatively you can use onions, red chili flakes or other dried herbs, ginger, etc.) and sauté to soften. At this point you can add two tablespoons of white wine, vinegar, lemon juice, apple juice, etc. to add additional flavor.
Add the beans and toss around in the oil. Sauté for three minutes to heat thoroughly. You’re not trying to cook the beans here, just warm them.
I often add nuts or small pieces of fruit (such as apples) after about a minute.
Salt, pepper and fresh herbs should be added at this point. Give the beans another final toss before serving.