Green beans aren’t meant to be mushy, nor a dull shade of olive.
And although I have a soft spot in my heart for the classic Thanksgiving green bean casserole (I mean, really, there’s something about that uber salty, canned soup-ness that takes me right back to childhood), there’s simply no excuse for limp, overcooked green beans.
Like many people, I’ve had my fair share of failed attempts at cooking green beans.
I never had much luck with steaming or boiling them. Roasting green beans isn’t good (even though that’s one of my favorite methods for almost every other vegetable, especially broccoli and cauliflower.
Sauteeing seemed like a good choice, but getting it right was tricky.
Finally, I learned the secret to good sauteed green beans was to first blanch them in a pot of hot water, then “shock” them in a bowl of ice water to preserve the bright green color, and finally, return them to a saute pan to finish cooking.
This method worked great, but created so many dishes! Plus, I found that if I didn’t get the timing just right, the reheating step sometimes resulted in overcooked green beans anyways. They were nice and green, but too soft.
My recipe below for green beans with macadamia nuts and thyme is a foolproof 5-minute method that I’ve been using for years. The green beans are perfectly cooked-but-not-mushy, crisp-but-not-raw.
You only need a good cast iron skillet with a lid.
[Full disclosure: I still use the blanch-chill-saute method when I cook for large groups for extra assurance that they keep their bright green color if dinner time gets delayed. There’s a reason pro chefs do it, but if you’re cooking for a small group and serving immediately, you can skip it.]
Green Beans with Macadamia Nuts and Thyme
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 lb fresh green beans, stems removed (thin green beans or haricot vert are my favorite)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ c macadamia nuts, chopped
- A few sprigs fresh thyme
Use a large cast iron skillet that has a well-fitting lid. Pre-heat the pan on high.
Add butter, green beans, and salt. Using tongs, spread green beans into an even layer (ideally a single layer).
After about a minute, toss the green beans and let cook for another minute or two. When you see the color of the green beans intensify, they’re almost ready.
Get your lid ready. In one fell swoop, add 1 Tbsp water to the pan and immediately cover with the lid. Let steam for 30 seconds or so. (If you’re cooking thick green beans, you may need a bit more cooking time.)
Check the green beans for doneness. Give one a nibble. It should be easy to bite into, but still be a little crispy. Cooked, but not mushy.
When the green beans are done to your liking, remove from pan, top with fresh thyme and macadamia nuts. Serve immediately.
If you give my recipe for Green Beans with Macadamia Nuts and Thyme a go, tell me about it in the comments below!
Happy veggie cooking!
Until next week,
PS – Want more recipes for making vegetables delicious? Grab my free ebook, “Veggies: Eat The Because You Want To, Not Because You Have To” via the box below (or right HERE).
PPS – You’ll notice I used butter in this recipe. Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to cook with saturated fat.