Green beans are one of my favourite vegetables, especially when they’re sprinkled with crunchy toasted nuts and dressed with brown butter. Browning butter is one of the all-time great flavour secrets; it’s an easy way to unlock lots of hidden flavour and dress up your plate. Of course, for a healthier twist, you can simply use flavourful olive oil.
Yield: Serves 4
1 pound fresh green beans
2 tablespoons Butter
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons any vinegar
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
a splash water
Wash green beans and snip off the stem ends, leaving the beautiful curled tips.
Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and begin heating and melting it.
Because butter contains as much as 20 percent water, it will begin to steam and foam. Once the water has evaporated, the foam will subside, and the butter’s temperature will begin to rise past the boiling point of water. The milk fat solids that are 1 or 2 percent of the butter will then begin to brown.
Keep a close eye on it as it foams. Swirl it gently, watching the color. When it turns golden brown and releases the aroma of toasting nuts, immediately stir in the almonds to lower the butter’s temperature and stop it from browning further.
Continue cooking, stirring the almonds as they heat through and gently toast. From the time the butter is added until the almonds are lightly browned will take about 5 minutes.
Add the green beans, vinegar and salt and pepper and a splash of water. Toss well to coat the beans with the butter and nuts. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, lower the heat and continue cooking, steaming the beans until they’re tender.
Try sprinkling in some of your favourite chopped fresh herb. Thyme, tarragon and green onions all work well. A single clove of thinly sliced garlic may also be added to the butter along with the nuts. For a special treat, try using pine nuts instead of almonds.
One of the best ways to fill Half Your Plate (and all of your soup bowl) is with a simple puréed soup. They’re a time-honoured and super-simple way to get a whole lot of vegetable flavour on the table in a hurry – maybe even hide vegetables from finicky eaters. This one was custom created by Health Minister Terry Lake with Chef Michael Smith’s coaching!