Jul 062007

Green beans with red pepper and garlic

Around this time of year I’m always looking for delicious, light food that really takes advantage of the season’s freshest produce. If it happens to pair with the fresh bounty from the sea that Alaska has to offer, all the better.

Right after I got back from my honeymoon I realized that halibut was in season and that was, of course, a perfect reason to have people over. Halibut needs little accompaniment on its flesh — but that’s another post. The tough question was what to serve beside it. Really, just about anything could go next to, but I needed something bright in color, texture, and flavor. Then I remembered green beans with red pepper, lightly sauteed and adorned with garlic.

Green beans with red pepper and garlic

It was perfect — this light, flavorful, and wonderfully textured vegetable side dish just screams “SUMMER!” to me.

This is also a great dish to serve while entertaining. It comes together in mere minutes and is visually pleasing, thanks to the red and green. I’ve also found a couple of key substitutions that help adapt this recipe to different palates — if you want something with a bit of spice to complement the garlic, use the red pepper flakes. If you want to add a different kind of crunch that brings some white to the presentation, use sliced almonds instead. You could also substitute other vegetables in, or just add them. It’s a great, versatile, healthy dish that often finds its way to my table.

Green beans with red pepper and garlic

Green beans with red pepper and garlic
From The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook
Serves 6

1 lb green beans, stems trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper (capsicum), seeded and cut into julienne
1/2 teaspoon chile paste or red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
handful sliced almonds (optional)
Cut the beans into 2-inch (5cm) pieces. Bring a large saucepan three-quarters full of water to a boil. Add the beans and blanch until they turn bright green and are tender crisp, about 90 seconds. Drain the beans and plunge into an ice-water bath or rinse them heavily with very cold water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and toss and stir for 1 minute.
Add the beans and saute for 1 minute longer.
Add the chile flakes or paste and and garlic and cook for one minute longer. The beans will be tender and bright green.
Drizzle with a touch of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and (if you’ve omitted the chili pepper flakes) garnish with the sliced almonds. Serve immediately.

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