Sunday, March 10, 2013

Roasted Sesame Green Beans - More March Green



I've never been a big fan of fresh green beans, unless they are super slim and small. I think that the larger, older beans must develop some taste that the young ones don't have. Even blanching the bigger ones doesn't seem to stop them from tasting really, really beany. It might have been the reason why fresh green beans were always cooked almost to a mush when I was growing up, plus that pot of what my sisters and brothers and I called 'dead beans' usually had a liberal amount of bacon grease added. Almost anything with bacon flavor is easier to work up an appetite for than something without when it comes to vegetables.

As an adult I have tried different things with fresh beans since I actually like my beans to be green and have some body when I eat them. A few days ago a free copy of Cooks Illustrated magazine appeared in my mailbox. If you are not familiar with it, it is a most unusual magazine. There are no ads, many black and white photos, and the recipes have been tested and fiddled with until they are just what the author wants. There are guides for buying ingredients, step-by-step illustrations for technique, tips, buying information and more. The write-up of the recipes often explain in detail why they found that a certain ingredient needed to be added to or subtracted from the recipe, what was the result of baking something a one temperature instead of another and similar finding that can help create the perfect finished product.

On page 20 there is an article about roasting fresh green beans. There is a basic recipe and then variations. One of the variations really appealed to me; roasted sesame green beans. The basic beans are roasted for 10 minutes, then the pan is removed from the oven, a mixture of fresh garlic, ginger, some honey, toasted sesame oil and some hot pepper flakes is added and the beans are tossed with tongs and then roasted another 10 minutes, then sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.

These are great beans! I did have to sub cayenne pepper for the pepper flakes since my spice rack seemed to be free of pepper flakes, but otherwise I followed the recipe...until the end. I forgot to toss the beans in the sesame seeds, so I sprinkled them on top of the plated beans. Worked just fine! The beans were still green, softer than I like but still toothsome, and the topping and sesame seeds added just the right flavor and crunch. I'm going to make these again soon. I love the way the beans caramelized and the flavor that was added by that and by the garlic and ginger. Now even supermarket green beans are delicious.

Roasted Sesame Green Beans
Serves 4

1 lb fresh green beans, stem ends snapped off
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Put beans into a produce bag or other food safe plastic bag. Drizzle with the oil. Close bag and shake. Add salt and pepper. Shake again. Spread oiled and seasoned beans on baking sheet in an even layer. Roast 10 minutes.

While beans are roasting, combine garlic, ginger, honey, toasted sesame seed oil and pepper flakes in a small bowl. When beans have finished their 10 minutes of roasting, remove pan from oven. Using tongs, coate beans evenly with the garlic/ginger mixture; redistribute on pan in an even layer. Return to oven and continure roasting until dark golden brown in spots and starting to shrivel, 9 - 12 minutes longer. Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and additional salt/pepper if needed. Serve at once.

1 comment :

tanita davis said...

HUH! I would never have thought of roasting them.

I LOVE the people at Cook's Illustrated; we watched the show on PBS (America's Test Kitchen) for years, and they're on Netflix, so we can happily watch Chris turn up his nose at something in perpetuity - but we've never gotten the magazine. It would be worthwhile for these types of recipes, I'm sure!

The one way I like the really wee haricot verts is with red onion in a slightly sweetish vinaigrette - it's lovely and cooling in blasting heat of summer, and the beans are slightly cooked by the vinegar, and mildly crunchy still. A friend made it, and as soon as I have a reliable recipe from her (one which isn't, "well, then you add a pinch of...") I'll share.