Spicy-Sweet Green Beans


By Freya Bellin

Asian-style green beans are pretty classic—usually stir-fried with soy sauce and something spicy. These green beans build on that concept, by adding an almond-based paste and employing a less-fried (less-greasy) cooking method. The result is a super crisp and bright green bean, coated with a nutty, sweet, spicy, irresistible sauce.

The almond-chile paste is the real highlight of this recipe. I used the full 2 tablespoons of oil (if not more) when processing the mix, and I still ended up with a pretty chunky mixture, so don’t expect it to get super smooth. And it doesn’t need to be—the texture and crunch was actually really nice.  The heat from the chiles will also calm down a bit once you add soy sauce and honey, so it’s ok if at first the paste tastes a little spicier than you might want it. I had some sauce leftover in the pan, which I started spreading on veggie burgers and sandwiches. In fact, you may want to make a little extra on purpose. It’s pretty addictive stuff.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook

Spicy-Sweet Green Beans

Makes: 4 to 8 servings

Time: 20 minutes

An exotic finger food or side dish, this Asian-inspired take on green beans has an appealing variety of tastes and textures happening all at once: the crunch of almonds, the spiciness of chiles, the sweetness of honey, and the complex flavor of soy. Use the same technique with Mediterranean ingredients for an equally addictive variation. Or try thin asparagus spears.


1 pound green beans

1/2 cup whole almonds

3 garlic cloves

1 or 2 dried hot red chiles, or to taste

3 tablespoons olive oil

1.3 cup chopped shallots

2 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons soy sauce

Black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add the beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes, depending on the size of the beans. Shock the beans in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and drain again (this can be done up to a day ahead of time).

2. Put the almonds, garlic, and chiles in a food processor and process; while the machine is running, add a tablespoon or 2 of the oil to get the mixture moving. Continue to process until you have a thick paste.

3. Put the remaining olive oil in a large skillet and cook the shallots over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they’re just soft, about 3 minutes. Add the almond paste and continue cooking for another couple of minutes, then add the honey and soy sauce. Cook for another minute or 2 over high heat, stirring constantly, before adding the green beans. Toss to coat the beans well in the almond-shallot mixture and cook just until the beans are warmed through; if the paste becomes too thick, add a tablespoon or 2 of water to thin it out. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve hot or at room temperature.

Garlicky Green Beans. Use pine nuts instead of the almonds, omit the chiles, and proceed through Step 2. In Step 3, add 1.2 cup good-quality chopped black olives along with the pine nut paste, and instead of the soy sauce, use 2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar with the honey. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.


Posted in Produce


  1. Elisa Girard said...

    I just made this recipe and my husband and I thought is was quite good with couscous and a fried egg on the side. Next time I’d be curious to see what the addition of some coconut milk could do, to make more of a sauce.

  2. dogolaca said...

    1.3 cup chopped shallot. Do you mean one-third? Similar issue with 1.2 in the mediterranean version

  3. HolidayJodi said...

    mark has done it again, another one of our family’s favs. 4 out of 5 of our fav top fives are mark’s recipes. he is my go to man for recipes and for inspiring articles. oh and for gifts as well, i’ve given a few of his cookbooks for presents and they are life changing. perfectly simple recipes usually vegetable focused. keep writing mark because we are reading.

  4. MurphyHeather said...

    I served this to dinner guests last night, and it was a hit. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that dried chiles are super cheap, which I hadn’t realized. I’m definitely going to make this again the next time I have green beans in the house- and I might take your advice and mix up some more of the paste just to see how many different things it tastes good on.

  5. saltandserenity said...

    Leave it to Mark to come up with something new and delicious to do with green beans! Can’t wait to try these.

  6. madamcharlene said...

    Wow! This is an ab-fab dish. I used (almost) 2 dried red chiles. Next time I’ll use 1. However, it was incredible and I could almost eat the entire lb of green beens right now. It was a test for a dinner party. I have no doubts this is going to be a hit. I don’t know how it could be finger food, however. Messy.

  7. It’s an remarkable post in support of all the online visitors; they will get benefit from it I am sure.

  8. Nostalrius said...

    Amazing post. I read your posts all the time and you always do a good job articulating the whatever topic you’re
    writing about. Btw, I shared this on LinkedIn and my followers
    loved it. Keep up the great work!

  9. Michelle said...

    what do you mean by 1.3 cup 1 and 1/3 cups or 1/3 cup

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