The Origin of Green Bean Almondine
There are certain dishes that evoke nostalgia, taking us back to a time when the simplest flavors brought the greatest joy. Green Bean Almondine is one such dish for me. Growing up, my family often gathered around the table for Sunday dinners, where this classic French delight was always present. The story goes that the recipe was brought to our family by my great-grandmother, who discovered it during a trip to France in the early 1900s. Ever since then, it has become a cherished tradition, passed down from generation to generation.
What makes Green Bean Almondine so special is its simplicity and ability to elevate the humble green bean to a whole new level. The tender-crisp beans, adorned with toasted almonds, garlic, and the richness of butter, create a symphony of flavors that is both comforting and delightful. It’s a dish that embodies the essence of French cuisine – elegant, yet approachable.
- 1 lb (450g) fresh green beans, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Blanch the Green Beans
In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add a generous amount of salt. Add the green beans and cook for 3-4 minutes until they are bright green and slightly tender, but still crisp. Drain and immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. This blanching technique helps maintain the vibrant green color and ensures the beans retain their crispness.
Step 2: Toast the Almonds
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the slivered almonds and toast them until they turn golden brown and release a nutty aroma. Be sure to watch them closely and stir frequently to prevent burning. Once toasted, remove the almonds from the skillet and set them aside.
Step 3: Sauté the Garlic
In the same skillet, add the minced garlic and sauté for about a minute until fragrant. Be careful not to let it brown as it can become bitter. The garlic will infuse the butter with its pungent flavor, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
Step 4: Bring it all Together
Drain the blanched green beans and add them to the skillet with the sautéed garlic. Toss them gently to coat evenly with the garlic-infused butter. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the beans and season with salt and pepper according to your taste preference. Stir everything together and continue cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes until the beans are warmed through and thoroughly coated.
Step 5: Serve and Enjoy
Transfer the Green Bean Almondine to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted almonds on top. The almonds add a delightful crunch and nuttiness that complements the tender green beans perfectly. This dish pairs wonderfully with roasted chicken, seared fish, or even as a standalone vegetarian delight. So go ahead, take a bite, and let the flavors transport you to the rustic kitchens of France.
Tips and Variations:
- If you prefer your green beans to be more tender, blanch them for an additional minute or two.
- For an extra burst of flavor, you can add a splash of white wine or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes during the garlic sautéing stage.
- For a twist on the classic recipe, try using roasted almonds or substitute the butter with olive oil for a healthier alternative.