Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sautéed Fresh Green Beans with Leeks - The Perfect Dinner Companion

I have had a busy summer that flew by so quickly I feel like I'll never catch up! So ... while I work on  a few blog posts about some of the more interesting tidbits I've gathered from my summer visitors and my own travels, I'm serving up something fast and fresh to ease us all back into the weeknight kitchen.

Fresh whole green beans are a snap to prepare and they pair well with herbs, aromatics and other flavor enhancers from the pantry. The recipe is really nothing more than a technique and maybe a little inspiration.

After cleaning and snapping the ends off the beans, sauté -- the technique -- them in a little olive oil over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes. Then add a splash of water or broth to the pan and cover with a lid. The beans will steam -- OK, two techniques -- and cook to a tender crunch in about 3 minutes, or longer if you like them softer.

Remove the lid and toss in some chopped leeks, sprinkle with salt and pepper and continue to sauté until leeks just begin to brown. The beans will still be bright green and, as you can see, make a tempting presentation on the plate. 

To vary the flavors -- here's the inspiration part -- add a tiny bit of soy sauce or wine to the liquid and/or chopped garlic to brown with the leeks. Substitute whatever aromatics you have handy -- onions, shallots, green onions or red bell peppers. 

Finally, add another sprinkle or splash of flavor -- more inspiration -- just before serving, if you like. Maybe some grated orange or lemon zest, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, toasted sesame seeds, chopped nuts, chopped fresh herbs or herb vinaigrette.

Serve these beans any way you like -- hot from the pan, cooled to room temperature or cold from the fridge in a salad, or even as a salad!

Hey, this is more like ten or twenty recipes in one! 

I hesitate to mention that other fresh vegetables can be used in place of green beans -- broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus -- which now brings this up to ten or twenty thousand recipes on one page!

Uh-oh, there goes my million dollar cookbook deal ...

Fresh, bright and dressed to please -- green beans make the perfect dinner companion!

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