by Mollie Katzen
From The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation
If we get literal about green beans, we can include edamame (bright green soy beans) along with the more commonly expected haricots verts, and the result will be highly textured and elegant. This dish spells beautiful simplicity on its own, and is even better when spooned into scooped-out baked potatoes that have been sprinkled with grated cheddar and briefly broiled.
• You can blanch the green vegetables well ahead of serving time, and then heat-coat them with the scallions and garlic just before they go to the table. If you go this route, refresh them under cold running water after you drain them into the colander. This will arrest the cooking process, and seal the deal on the chlorophyll.
• Select the green beans carefully, one by one, to get an attractive set of matching size and smoothness. The dish will be all the lovelier for your effort.
• If you are serving these in the baked potato halves, bake and scoop out two large russet potatoes ahead of time. (Use the scooped-out insides for blending into and thickening a creamy soup, if desired.) Broil the cheese onto the potato halves shortly before serving.
1 pound fresh green beans – trimmed and cut into 1 ½-inch lengths
10 ounces frozen edamame (shelled green soy beans)
1 cup (or more) frozen green peas
1 tablespoon olive oil (possibly a little more)
A touch of butter (optional)
3/4 cup minced scallions (whites) (save the greens for the top)
Up to 1 teaspoon minced or crushed garlic
¼ teaspoon salt (possibly more, to taste)
A handful of fresh mint leaves (optional)
Put on a pot or a shallow pan of water to boil, and have a colander waiting in the sink. When the water boils, add the green beans, and cook until slightly tende - 5 to 8 minutes, depending on their thickness. When they are not quite yet done (to your taste), add the edamame and let them blanch together for another minute or so. At the very last moment, add the peas. When everything is bright green and al dente, drain the whole potful into the colander. Refresh the vegetables under cold running water for a minute or so to stop the cooking, then leave them in the sink to drain completely.
Meanwhile, place a medium-large (9- to 10-inch) skillet over medium-low heat, and wait about a minute. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan, then melt in the butter, if desired, and swirl again. Toss in the scallion whites and the garlic, plus ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and cook for just a minute or two – until everything is coated with everything else and all is shiny and fragrant. (Don’t allow the garlic to brown.)
Stir in the drained vegetables and heat everything together gently, turning to coat. You’re not really cooking the vegetables at this point, it’s more like massaging them. It’s very important that they retain their color and crunch.
Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature – plain, or in potato halves - topped with the scallion greens and the mint, if desired.