Thursday, February 25, 2010

Craving Green Beans!

This past weekend, the sun peeked out; the clouds parted; and the air felt downright balmy. The Man of the House was quickly dispatched to grill burgers for supper . . . out on the deck . . . in the balmy air.

I, for my part, had a seen a recipe for Lemon Butter Green Beans with Pine Nuts. And the spring air pushed me right over the edge into a total craving for green beans. And, by the way, not the kind that comes in a can or a frozen bag. No, the early feel of spring in the air had me longing for the fresh kind of green beans that come succulently out of My Mom's garden.

Unfortunately, green beans of this sort are not currently growing in South Carolina and don't look to be any time in the near future. The closest I could come was green beans grown in Mexico and shipped to South Carolina.

Yes, expensive and definitely not the politically-correct-eat-local-produce-in-season choice. Barbara Kingsolver would not be happy.

Have you read her book? Great book, and I totally agree with her views that we should be eating local produce. I really do.

But sometimes, when you get a little sniff of spring you've got to go out and do something wild and crazy . . . like . . . like . . . buying up 2 pounds of fresh green beans shipped all the way from Mexico.

In this recipe, mild, sweet shallots are diced fine, and sauteed with butter.

(Yummy shallots waiting to be diced.)

Pine nuts are then added to the sauteeing shallots and are toasted in the delicious shallot-y butter for a minute.

(Yummy pine nuts waiting to be added to
yummy, buttery, sauteeing shallots)

(And here it all is waiting for the addition of
the over-priced, imported, fresh, craved-for
green beans.)

The green beans are cooked in boiling water for only 3-4 minutes.

And then plunged into a nice ice cold bath to stop their cooking.

This is called "blanching" and leaves the freshest, half crisp, half tender, all delicious green beans ready to add to the shallots and pine nuts.

The green beans get several minutes of warming and tossing with the shallots and pine nuts, and then they're ready to pop on the table . . . just as the burgers are coming off the grill.

Then you place the warm and buttery green beans right where the warm and buttery sun is pouring in the window. And you smell shallots and hear the sizzle of the burgers and know that for a small moment in time all is right in your world.

Lemon-Butter Green Beans with Pine Nuts (serves 4):

1 pound fresh green beans (ends trimmed and blanched in boiling water)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (that's what ReaLemon is; right?)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Drain blanched green beans well and pat dry. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly to keep from burning. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring, for an additional minute. Add the green beans and toss to coat evenly. Cook just enough to warm through, about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice, salt, sugar, and pepper and toss to combine. Remove from the heat and serve.


  1. We got our grill out this weekend too, for the first time all winter. We grilled a couple of steaks.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I feel strongly too about eating local produce and supporting local growers. Except of course when I want something I can't get a good avocado. I'm also known to frequent certain restaurants in our area that buy locally. But, I'd like to check out this book.

    The green bean recipe looks great. Thanks for sharing. Yes, I have a bad case of spring fever too. Alas, winter feels like she has made a comeback today.

  2. Yep-- last weekend gave me SUCH a case of spring fever. This recipe looks wonderful!

  3. Okay - I am completely making this recipe.
    Where do you purchase your pine nuts? I made pesto recently and paid an outrageous price for pine nuts at a sweet little family-owned grocery in Brevard. (You would love it.)
    And I love my Kingsolver book - keep it handy actually. (It's the inspiration behind this spring's planned community garden here at our place.)
    But despite my love of Kingsolver and all produce local - I still buy bananas!

  4. It just goes to show ya,
    here in mid-Missouri there was not one grill fired up outside. It's too darn wintery around here.

    It's forecasted to be in the 40's daytime for the next several days. Fingers crossed.

    Green beans sound delish ! !


  5. Pine nuts are hard to come by in Po-Dunk USA where I live. I love them (you know, theoretically, like, if I could eat and all) but I'm wondering how this recipe would be with slivered almonds? Different, I know, but I wonder if it's a reasonable substitute. I think we have one green bean package left in our freezer from last summer's garden. Not quite fresh, but as close as I can come!