Consider yourself warned. This recipe is swimming in so much fat, it can certainly be considered a hazard to one’s health. How can something so skinny be so fattening? Naturally slim, romantic and elegant, even when mature, France’s answer to string beans, haricots verts, can easily go it alone without any sauce, salt or slick, clinging to its green and delicate complexion.
The French, however, weren’t having any of it. Creator and champion of one of the world’s greatest cuisines, France knows how to gild a lily. Forays into nouvelle cuisine/cuisine minceur and molecular gastronomy notwithstanding, French cooking will likely be forever known by its grandaddy of disciplines, the classic haute cuisine. Beyond its exacting and elaborate methods, haute cuisine’s heavy reliance on butter, cream, oils and animal fats are the stuff the first famous chefs were made of.
It’s not that the average American diet isn’t guilty of its own hyper-embellishments. Bread really isn’t bread in these parts unless you lavishly, and slavishly, grease it with butter, cheese, mayonnaise, or nut spreads. If you aren’t using a knife to wax up your slice, you are probably dipping a tip of it into a small bowl of olive oil, infused with herbs or other aromatics. Americans are also quick with the sauces and salad dressings, smothering our healthy but “boring” vegetables into slow-moving masses so unrecognizable they could audition for a role in “The Blob.” Anyone who has been subjected to the Thanksgiving cult classic, the Green Bean Casserole, can testify to my claim. The French, however, use a lighter touch for this vegetable, though the luxurious caloric count would beg to differ.
Haricots Verts Amandine is an extremely easy recipe which Americans long ago have welcomed as their own, even if we are using local varieties of green beans or dolling it up with the additions of bacon, pearl onions or mushrooms. What everyone does agree on is the liberal use of butter and almonds. Substituting much of the butter with mono-saturated sweet almond oil reduces some cardio risks, but none of the calories. Will this discourage you from preparing this simple, sophisticated and satisfying dish? I’ll wager not. Fat chance.
The Ultimate Amandine - My own recipe
1 pound haricots verts or other green string beans
1/2 cup slivered, chopped or sliced skinless almonds
3 tablespoons sweet almond oil (culinary oil ONLY)
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash of ground white pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Heat large pot of water to boiling. Meantime, wash and trim ends from beans. (For decorative purposes, you can trim the ends by splitting them on the diagonal, called "frenching." This does, however, create some waste.) Blanche beans in the boiling water for exactly 3 minutes. Promptly remove beans to a bowl of cold water to stop cooking and retain color, which will now be a vivid green.)
In a large skillet (cast iron works best), toast almonds over medium-high heat until they are somewhat browned. Do not fully brown them at this point. Turn off heat. Mix oil, butter, salt and dash of white pepper together before pouring into hot skillet. Stir the almonds often until fully browned. Turn heat back on to medium-low. Add beans, gently turning until well coated with oil/butter mixture and warm to the touch. Squeeze lemon over beans. Remove from skillet and serve immediately.
Serves 4 as a side dish. --
[Health note: Much of the fat can be cut by roasting the blanched beans with the partially-browned almonds at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, turning them once. Lightly oil or spray non-stick coating on a cookie sheet before arranging ingredients on top.]
This post is being submitted to Rachel of Rachel's Bite, who is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging for Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen, the creator of this food blogging event.