Simple pleasures

I’ve bean losing you

Garlic green beans

It’s the smell of the garlic that does it. And the way the deep, shining green of the beans reflects the light, inviting errant hands to dive in and grab one or two as if they were going to disappear, evaporating before your eyes like sweets at a children’s party.

Unless you’ve just picked the beans from the garden, though, you’re already losing. The way to get the best out of them if like most of us your veg. has come from a shop or market, is to trim the bottoms off (as when cutting flowers), and give the beans a good soak in iced water for at least half an hour. This will help them enormously and bring back some of their crisp, straight-from-the-earth freshness.

If we are feeling festive, I may add toasted almond slivers and crisp shards of Parma ham to the cooked beans. This has the effect of turning the dish into something more akin to bringing a trophy to the table, and one you can eat at that.  

Ingredients
250g extra fine green beans, fine tips left on, stalky end removed
2 cloves of garlic
4tbsp excellent olive oil
Salt

Method
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the beans, making sure they are fully submerged.
Cook for three to four minutes until they are soft but still have some bite left in them. Drain and submerge in very cold — if not icy –– water. The cold water will help them keep their vibrant colour and also means you can do this part a little in advance if you like and finish off just before serving.
Finely crush or grate the garlic with a microplane then put the pan back on the heat and add the oil. Mix in the garlic and let cook for about 15 seconds before adding the beans back. Mix well and cook through until the beans are hot. Serve in a warm dish or they will get cold quicker than you can get them to the table.

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