I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that most Americans’ encounters with green beans come in the form of Thanksgiving casseroles, the one with tinned beans, cream of mushroom soup and crispy fried onions on top. I’m not knocking it, exactly; it’s a classic for a reason, and having a quick-to-make recipe is an absolute godsend when you’re feeding twenty people at one go. (That said, my feet swell just thinking about the chemicals and sodium involved.) I just wonder if the average vegetable-averse American knew how deliciously alive and snappy-fresh green beans can taste, he might never venture back into the canned vegetable aisle. And wouldn’t that be a great thing?
For this side dish, Parisian-skinny haricots verts are especially crisp and tasty, but at my market there was an abundance of fresh, husky Blue Lakes, so that’s what I used. I love the crunch of aptly-named snap peas, or swap them out for snow peas. And while I found the combination of hazelnuts and orange with the olive oil-tossed vegetables interesting and bright, the real keeper here is the quick-cooking blanching technique; the texture was perfect, the vegetables crisp and fresh. Try it with other combinations: a classic vinaigrette and almonds, or tossed with spicy harissa. (I’ll save you the trouble of trying olive tapenade, which sounds like it should be delicious, but isn’t.) Or just go for it and crumble some of those Thanksgiving fried onions on top.
Green Beans & Snap Peas with Hazelnut and Orange Zest
adapted from Ottolenghi: the Cookbook; serves 4-6
- 3/4 lb green beans
- 1/2 lb snap or snow peas
- one medium orange, zested
- 2 Tbsp hazelnuts
- 2 Tbsp chives, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp hazelnut, walnut, or other nut oil
- kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, toast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes until fragrant. Meanwhile, bring a large pot (big enough for the vegetables to swim around freely) of unsalted water to a boil. Trim the stems from the green beans and peas, leaving the two separate. With a clean kitchen towel, rub the papery skins from the toasted hazelnuts. Roughly chop, leaving some pieces whole or in halves.
Blanch the green beans for 3-4 minutes; with tongs, remove to the colander and rinse with cold water. Return the water to a boil and blanch the snap peas for one minute, drain and rinse with cold water.
Toss the green beans and snap peas with the oil, orange zest, hazelnuts and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.