Green beans are like the perfect little black dress: appropriate for so many occasions. Dressed with a bit of butter, they are a welcome, simple companion to roasts, steaks, fried chicken, even scrambled eggs. Toss in a few nuts or flavored oils and they are ready for company. With nuts, figs and herbs, they'll be the hit of any dinner party.
Try this recipe with different herbs and nuts, but definitely keep the figs. The dried fruit can be used, but rehydrate them with a liquid -– wine, apple juice, water, etc. -- before adding them to the recipe.
- 2 pounds fresh green beans, rinsed, drained and ends trimmed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, cut into small dice
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 2 or 3 lemons)
- 1 teaspoon fig balsamic vinegar
- 6 fresh figs, cut into sixths (may substitute rehydrated dried figs; see headnote)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Water, as needed
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted (see NOTE)
Fill a large saucepan three-quarters full with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Carefully add the green beans; once the water returns to a boil, cook for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water until the beans are cool to the touch.
Add the oil to the saucepan and return to the stove over medium heat. When it is hot, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the rosemary, honey, mustard, lemon zest and vinegar; mix well to form a glaze.
Add the cooled green beans and stir to coat evenly, then add the figs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the beans are warmed through and the flavors have had a chance to mingle. If the glaze begins to thicken and stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water a tablespoon at a time to achieve the desired consistency.
Remove from the heat. Toss in the walnuts and serve warm, or at room temperature.
NOTE: Toast walnuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat for 4 to 6 minutes or until fragrant, shaking them occasionally to keep them from burning.
From Smithsonian Gardens education specialist Cynthia A. Brown.
Tested by Cynthia A. Brown.
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