Ina Garten knows how to take a simple dish and make it fantastic. I was assigned to bring green beans to a family dinner and was determined to do more than just heat up a can of beans. Green beans rarely excite people. Enter Ina’s Green Bean Gremolata from her cookbook Barefoot Contessa Foolproof.
Looking through Ina Garten’s cookbooks is a mouthwatering experience. The photography is so beautiful! And even better, she has figured out a way to actually make green beans an exciting part of the meal (yes, it can be done).
Green Beans Gremolata
1 pound French green beans, trimmed (frozen is OK, canned is not)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Step 1: Toast your pine nuts in a dry saute pan over low heat for 5-10 minutes.
Step 2: Blanch the beans by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch them for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Drain the beans in a colander and immediately put them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve their bright green color.
Step 3: Make the gremolata by tossing the garlic, lemon zest, parsley, Parmesan and pine nuts in a small bowl and set aside.
Step 4: Right before serving, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Drain the beans and pat them dry. Add the beans to the pan and saute, turning frequently, for 2 minutes, until coated with olive oil and heated through. Off the heat, add the gremolata and toss well. Sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and serve hot.
Family verdict: Many people asked for seconds and it was the first dish that was gone, so it was a hit!
Notes: Since fresh green beans aren’t in season, I got frozen French green beans from Costco and they worked perfectly. Also, don’t skip the blanching. It seems like a useless extra step but blanching really helped the beans maintain their vibrancy which added to the overall appeal.