I grew up in Oregon, while my extended family hailed from the East Coast and rarely traveled west to visit. My grandparents preferred to visit in the summer, and who could blame them when November was without fail cold, damp and rainy. I was always envious of classmates who had big holiday meals with all their relatives, and began learning to cook our own family Thanksgiving dinner at the age of eight. My mother was not a big fan of cooking, so I was determined to do it “properly.” I had a lot of help from the original Betty Crocker cookbook. The one dish I remember my mom always making was green beans with almonds, the nuts an added treat over everyday beans. To this day I never make Thanksgiving dinner without green beans.
When eating Thanksgiving dinner with other families, I always hated that ubiquitous green bean casserole with canned soup and onion straws on top. Sure, the onions were a novelty, but that green, slimy mush tasted nothing like the simple, fresh green beans we had at home. (Okay, so they were often frozen green beans, but that’s still fresher tasting than the canned that seemed to be required in the casserole.) Why mask such a beautiful, simple vegetable? When most traditional holiday dishes are loaded with fat or sugar, surely there’s room for one refreshingly healthy side dish. Of course, over the years I’ve added my own twists, so perhaps these zesty beans will make the obligatory green dish a little more able to hold its own next to your turkey and sweet potatoes.
Instructions: Bring pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat sauté pan over medium heat and toast almonds until just turning golden, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and reduce heat to low. Melt butter in pan, then add shallot and cook, stirring once or twice, until shallots are golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat. Add a pinch of salt to boiling water and blanch green beans for 4 minutes, then drain and add to pan with shallots. Add almonds and lemon zest and toss gently. Top with blue cheese and serve. If you make this ahead of time, reheat in oven just before serving, then top with blue cheese immediately upon removing from oven. Makes 8 servings. Enjoy!
napa farmhouse 1885™