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
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.