Thursday, August 20, 2015


I have a bad habit of trying new vegetable side dishes and forgetting to note them here, either because I didn’t bother to snap a photo or because the recipe seemed so simple I doubted whether it was worth singling out for posterity. Then, of course, the next time I want a vegetable side dish I look at my archives and just see the same old handful of options, so I figure I’ll try something new and the whole cycle begins again.

This pattern is particularly prevalent with green beans, because I love green beans so much that I have a hard time resisting the allure of new variations. I have three perfectly good ones languishing in my “try again” file right now (and may as well link to them for the record, as I might never get around to them again). But now I’ve found one that I’m so excited about, I’m going to break with tradition and post it in a timely and enthusiastic fashion.

When I saw this recipe at Smitten Kitchen, it looked good enough to bookmark, but I’ll admit that I figured Deb’s rave reviews were partly due to her pregnancy cravings; how revolutionary can green beans with almonds really be? Then I tried it … and was blown away. There’s something about that almond pesto—The salty Parmesan? The garlic? The hint of thyme or bright pop of vinegar?—that makes it so much more than the sum of its already-plenty-delicious parts.

I halved the recipe, more or less (a little more cheese, garlic, and thyme never hurt anyone). My tiny food processor tried to balk when it came to breaking down whole almonds, so I gave it a hand by chopping them first. Still, I wouldn’t switch to sliced or slivered ones; there’s something about the nubbly, clumpy texture of the finished pesto I really enjoy. It doesn’t always cling that well to the beans (don’t skip the extra drizzle of oil—it really helps) and you’ll end up scraping a bunch out of the bottom of your bowl afterward, but that’s fine with me because I can happily eat that stuff with a spoon. This is one new side dish that’s going to make it into heavy rotation.

1 pound green beans, trimmed, cut in half if really long
½ cup (2½ ounces) whole almonds, toasted, cooled, and roughly chopped
¼ cup (3/4 ounce) grated Parmesan or aged Pecorino cheese
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Leaves from a sprig or two of thyme
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
¼ teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Plunge into an ice-water bath to fully cool. Drain and pat dry.
  2. In a food processor, grind almonds, cheese, garlic, thyme, red pepper, and salt to a coarse paste. Add vinegar and pulse again. Stir in oil and adjust seasonings to taste (I add more salt at this point).
  3. Toss cooled green beans with almond pesto and drizzle with extra olive oil.
Serves: 4
Time: 20 minutes
Leftover potential: Good; my leftover servings stayed just fine in the fridge for a few days, and the original recipe mentions that you can keep the almond pesto on its own, refrigerated, for up to a week.

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