How can a vegetable recipe with only one tablespoon of oil and three simple ingredients — olive oil, green beans and shallots — be so delicious? It’s all in the technique, which combines slowly cooking shallots in olive oil to coax out their natural sweetness and simmering beans in a bit of water until tender.
It’s important to use French green beans, which are longer, thinner, sweeter and more tender than most American varieties. They are usually labeled Haricot Verts, which is French for green beans — haricot meaning beans and vert meaning green — and you can often find them bagged and trimmed at the supermarket.
Begin by thinly slicing the shallots into rings and cooking them slowly in olive oil until soft, sweet and mellow.
Next, add the haricots verts and cook a few minutes more.
Add the water, little by little, and simmer until the beans are tender and the pan is dry.
Be sure to cook the beans all the way through — if they are too al dente, they’ll be squeaky and bland. Also, be sure that all the water in the pan is evaporated before serving, otherwise the flavor will be diluted.
Season to taste and enjoy!
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French String Beans with Shallots
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
- About 1 cup water
- 3/4 pound (12 ounces) haricots verts (French string beans)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and mellow, about 8 minutes.
- Add the haricots verts, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup of the water and cook, stirring frequently, until the water evaporates, 4-5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of water and continue cooking until the beans are tender and the pan is completely dry, 5-6 minutes. Test the beans for doneness. If they need more cooking time, add a bit more water and cook until done; just be sure to cook off any remaining liquid in the pan before serving, otherwise the flavor will be diluted. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.