Post 118 – Balsamic Green Beans and Spring!

Oh man, the weather here is BEE-YOU-TIFUL! It’s hard to believe the snow has all melted and we’re seeing green again. Right now all of our windows are open, there’s a perfectly cool breeze flowing in and the cats entertain themselves by staring out the window and listening to the birds (when they aren’t chasing reflections from our electronic devices.)

IMG_0846I am so very grateful for the beautiful weather and I’ve tried to soak up every wonderful moment of it before it gets too hot. To me the warmer weather means making flavorful salads and fresh dishes without using the oven. These green beans are made stovetop and remind me of the spring with their beautiful bright color and crisp snap. If you’ve only eaten canned green beans, you are seriously missing out. Fresh green beans can be enjoyed raw or cooked (to your desired doneness) and can make for an excellent spring side dish.

This recipe comes from a William-Sonoma kids cookbook gifted to me by the former summer camp director at school. She gave it to me as a way to encourage me to do more cooking with kids. Thanks in part to her encouragement, I ran my first (highly popular) cooking club this past spring! I had a nice group of five sweet kids for nine weeks and when it ended they all begged me to do it again. We had a great time and I would be happy to do it again!

IMG_1459You start by trimming your green beans (or having a child do this) and blanching them. Blanching is an easy technique for pre-cooking vegetables. Basically you throw them in boiling, salted water for a few minutes until almost cooked (think al dente pasta) and then you drain them and shock in cold water. I did my best to trim as little as possible off the ends of the green beans, remembering not to waste too much as told to me by the chef from my job at the country club. Anyway, I think I did alright. Nowadays you can buy trimmed beans anyway so you can save yourself the work.

IMG_1463While your green beans are blanching, you want to thinly slice a few shallots. They are a small purple-ish onion with a pretty pinky colored skin and milder onion flavor. You can use a white or red onion for this if you prefer. These shallots will be cooked down into a stringy, sweet tangle that adds a level of sophistication to a regular side dish of green beans. And if your children are Williams-Sonoma-sophisticated maybe they will cook them for you and even eat them! I’m not making any promises.

IMG_1464Once the shallots have cooked down to soft oniony strings, you add a splash of balsamic vinegar and your pre-cooked green beans. You just want everything to come together and the green beans to warm up.

IMG_1465Serve with a big helping of mashed potatoes (stovetop – no oven required!) or throw them in with a green salad and celebrate the colors of spring. Winter is gone baby!

IMG_1469Bon appetit!