I fear there aren't that many green bean fanatics in the world, and that this post will serve as no more than a recipe archive for my own personal files, but this easy little recipe just has me so very excited. Seriously excited. I mean sure, they are just green beans, hardly the sexiest veggie in the world, but who can blame me? They are one of those ingredients that can only be enjoyed in season, before they get smushed up and muddled by any sort of freezing or canning sub-par method of preservation.
They just don't store well. I advocate freezing and canning where appropriate, and have gone a wee bit mad this past week with adventures and experiments in freezing pesto and salsa, roasting and freezing peppers, and canning Burn Sauce and pear preserves, but green beans just don't take to that sort of treatment.
It is with that knowledge that I go a little nuts about green beans every summer, when they can be found fresh-picked at the farmer's market and in the CSA box, crisp yet delicate, with pretty little curved tips and a sweet green scent. My favorite beans are always a bit on the slender side - the ones that cook the fastest and cry out for the least adornment, though a few of our regular recipes can tend towards the assertive side when additional flavors are added to the dishes (as with Italian Dijon Green Beans or Green Beans with Garlic and Shallots).
I prefer to cook the first ones of the season as lightly as possible, and I love, love, love to serve them a little chilled, if you can believe it, so it was with no small amount of glee that I clipped a recipe for Green Beans with Sweet Onion Vinaigrette from one of those sadly final issues of Gourmet magazine last summer.
And boy, do I miss that lovely, thoughtful magazine with the sensual photographs and real reporting and poignant stories that could bring a tear to the eye. A thousand and one curses on the heads of the decision-makers at Conde Nast.
Onions figure fairly heavily in our dishes, especially when Vidalias are in season, and this recipe just sounded so utterly perfect for the sweltering heat wave we have been mired in so thickly for the past few weeks. The flavors are supremely evocative of summer, and the idea of a cold side dish (now that salad greens have no chance of surviving our brutal temperatures and have long since left the garden) - well, it is just spot on, if you know what I mean.
These beans are nearly addictive, with the bright flavor of red wine vinegar and the simple but lively herbal quality of fresh flat-leaf parsley. I like these perfect, crisp little beans served alongside a cheesy, creamy omelette or frittata, but I imagine they would do just as well paired with spicy grilled fish (or meat, if you swing that way). Sweet onions lend a delicate piquancy to the dish, but I have used regular old white onions in a pinch and been just as happy with the finished balance of flavor.
GREEN BEANS WITH ONION VINAIGRETTE (adapted from Gourmet, serves 8)
- 1 cup finely chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia, or white onion
- 1 Tbs red-wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs whole-grain Dijon mustard
- 2 1/2 lbs green beans, stem end trimmed
- 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- coarse salt & freshly-ground pepper
- In a large serving bowl, stir together the onion, vinegar, mustard, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Marinate for at least 10 minutes.
- Cook beans in large pot of well-salted boiling water, uncovered, until crisp-tender, about 4 to 6 minutes, depending on size of beans.
- Transfer beans to an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain, and pat dry.
- Whisk oil & parsley into the onion mixture, then add the beans and toss to coat.
- Taste & adjust for salt.