I have been feeling like a supermarket version of the “Dear Abby” advice column. I don’t know how often this happens to other people who are good cooks, but it is happening to me constantly, random people just turn to me and ask me…”How do you cook that?” everywhere. At the farm store, at the fish counter, everywhere…. It is not like I am wearing a sign “I am a good cook, free advice here..”, neither do I make eye contact with people or god forbid smile at them… when I shop, I prefer to do it quickly, efficiently and with the least amount of interruptions… so I don’t know why people feel they can check out the contents of my cart, point to Kefir and ask “What do you do with that?”. And here is the thing, I don’t mind, these off the cuff questions actually flatter me and I go into a lengthy recipe descriptions and poor people are probably no longer happy about the engagement….
What strikes me as interesting is that most people have no idea how to cook simple staples. I get it that someone may need advice on how to cook squid or a whole goose, but mostly people ask about basic things. Recently a Russian lady surveyed a big bag of sweet potatoes in my cart and asked what I do with them. I didn’t want to admit that most often I buy sweet potatoes because my dogs love them, so I happily rattled off a dozen recipes for her and wondered if she will ever try and cook any of them. She than pointed to Kale and asked what it was…so, I got on my horse and gave her a quick lecture on the virtues of Kale. I think she is not coming back to that store ever again for fear of meeting me… her own fault, she started it.
All these questions made me think of doing a post on my favorite side dish and a simple thing that everyone should know how to cook…green beans. They are quick, easy, good for you and if done right delicious. And if someone doesn’t like them it means somewhere in their lives they encountered the canned version which can turn even the most stoic stomach.
There are two types of green beans out there, the fatter, longer version and the Haricot Vert , which are also called French green beans, that are very thin and a bit more delicate. I like the later just because I find them pretties, but really, there is not much difference in taste.
Sautéed spicy Green Beans with Hazelnuts
I lb of Green Beans ( Or Haricot Verts) washed and trimmed
3 Cloves of Garlic Minced
¼ tsp of red pepper flakes ( optional, or more if you want things spicier)
¼ cup of toasted hazelnuts roughly chopped
½ tbs of olive oil
Hazelnut oil (optional)
Salt to taste
Boil a large pot of water and salt it liberally, like you do pasta water. Boil the green beans for no longer than 1 minute and immediately transfer to an ice bath. This will preserve the crisp and color.
Pat dry with paper towels. Heat a large skillet with olive oil to medium heat; toss in the garlic, pepper flakes and hazelnuts and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the green beans and toss for another 30 seconds. Taste and see if any salt is needed, if you salted the water enough, the green beans should be properly seasoned. Transfer to a platter, drizzle with a bit of hazelnut or extra virgin olive oil and season with sea salt or Fleur De Sel if necessary.
These can stay perfectly crisp and tasty in the fridge for up to 3 days, just reheat in the microwave. Not a bad simple staple to have on hand for a side dish.