A few years ago, when we were living in Seattle, Aaron and I hosted his family for Thanksgiving. These green beans were born that day. They were the most flavorful treatment of vegetables not involving mass quantities of butter and cheese that any of us had ever tasted.
And then…we failed miserably at multiple attempts to recreate them over the next 4 years or so.
When I think back, it’s not really that much of a surprise that we’ve struggled to replicate the magic that came to life in green bean form that day. Holidays to us are a marathon. A full-day — usually starting at noon or slightly before — of food and beverage, with no shortage of either. And, while a green vegetable is a must-have at any holiday meal, it’s certainly not the main event. It usually gets worked on between the steps of another, more highly anticipated dish.
What I believe happened on Thanksgiving in our little townhouse, is this. Aaron’s brother, who is an excellent cook took the lead on the beans. He’s very adept in the kitchen and comes up with some excellent dishes simply by starting with a base of flavor and shaping the dish as he goes. He started the beans off by adding in the aromatics, shallots and garlic, and then got pulled into handling one of the other more delicate dishes. Someone else jumped in, cooking the beans until perfectly done and salting them generously. Then, someone else, or maybe Aaron’s brother again, finished them off with some capers and lemon.
But then again, there were multiple cocktails involved and the details are a bit fuzzy.
Anyways… let’s cut to the chase here. After several attempts to bring back the magical Thanksgiving green beans I, today, can boldly declare that this recipe is them. And they don’t require multiple cocktails to help them taste just as good as those on that cloudy Seattle Thanksgiving day. Though that certainly wouldn’t hurt.
These beans are tangy, yet rich and deep in flavor. They will stand up to any hearty main dish and are excellent when eaten as leftovers right out of the fridge. They also take less than 20 minutes to throw together. I repeat: less than 20 minutes. A side-dish that works for a hectic Thursday night or for Christmas dinner? I bet you don’t need a full hand of fingers to count the number of those types of recipes in your arsenal.
I am thrilled to have these magical green beans back in my life and I hope you’ll introduce them into yours, too!
- 1 ½ pounds (24 ounces) fresh green beans
- 2 shallots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons capers and their juices
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegan butter, such as Earth Balance
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Wash and trim the ends off of your green beans. Slice the shallots into thin strips and roughly chop the garlic cloves.
- Add the green beans, shallots, garlic, capers and their juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and water to a large sauté pan with a lid. Turn the burner on to medium heat and cover the pan with the lid. Steam the green beans stirring every few minutes to ensure even cooking. Test the green beans at 8, 10, and 12 minutes; you want to pull them off the heat once they are cooked through, but are still bright green and haven't yet gotten floppy.
- Once the green beans are done remove the pan from the heat and finish with the lemon juice, olive oil or butter, and another ½ teaspoon of salt. Toss gently and serve immediately.