Complicated recipes and desserts get all the attention, but sometimes it’s nice to make a simple dish that captures and compliments the flavors of a single ingredient. One of the reasons why I’m so addicted to In Late Winter We Ate Pears is that the recipes seem to follow exactly such logic. If you have a fresh and flavorful ingredient, why spend hours in the kitchen trying to manipulate and often hide its natural flavor? This is especially true of some “controversial” vegetables, perhaps because someone once said they didn’t like them, and so they were henceforth hidden in layers of cream, butter, or bread crumbs–green bean casserole anyone? Green bean casserole can be delicious, in that heavy, creamy sort of way, but that is not what I imagine to be green beans’ primary calling. Green beans are a light and clean-tasting vegetable, delicious when steamed until almost all their crunch is gone (but not steamed for so long that they become limp and an unappealing murky green color). I used to eat them steamed with only a tiny pat of butter and salt and pepper, but having found In Late Winter We Ate Pears, I have converted to olive oil and fresh lemon juice.
Green Beans with Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
Green beans, trimmed
Fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Steam the green beans for about five minutes or until they just loose their crunch, but not so long that they go limp and lose their vibrant green color. If you are serving them immediately, pour the green beans into a heat-proof bowl and dress with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Let the green beans sit in the olive oil and lemon “dressing” for a minute or two before serving hot. If serving cold, rinse the green beans under cold water when they are done steaming to stop the cooking process, and then dress them. I like these beans with quite a bit of lemon juice and salt, with the olive oil mediating. These probably take about 10 minutes to make, and half that time is used to boil the water for steaming. So easy, and so delicious.