One of my brilliant friends came up with an idea she calls “the roasted duck test.” The gist of the roasted duck test is to hold up any fancy preparation of an ingredient to a classic, simple, and really delicious one. I find it to be a good check on messing with a good thing.
This recipe for green beans would definitely pass whatever the green bean equivalent of the roasted duck test is, though. It only requires a couple of extra steps, and it’s really tasty. I was completely afraid it would taste too much like dill, but it was a baseless fear. The sweetness of the leeks cuts the dill perfectly, and they’re well worth washing the leeks to make.
Dilly Green Beans
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
1/3 c. fresh dill, well chopped
1 lb. green beans
splash of extra-virgin olive oil (a couple of tablespoons)
big pinch of salt (use sea salt if you have it)
First, you need to prepare the leeks. You want to cut off the hairy end as close as you can to where the roots start, and chop off the top where it becomes more green than white. (Don’t worry; precision is not important here.)
Cut the part of the leek that’s left into quarters lengthwise, so you have four long, triangular pieces per leek. Dump these into a bowl of water and swish around, getting as much water between layers as you can manage.
Then pull them out and dice them. (Here’s a good hint: you can wash and chop two bunches at once and then freeze the extra for next time.)
Snap both ends off of the green beans. I usually do this with my fingers; a knife works too, if you don’t mind sacrificing a little bean in the name of efficiency. Rinse them in a colander under running water.
Put a big skillet over medium-high heat (this is a good time for one with a fairly thick bottom if you have it) and add the splash of oil and pinch of salt. Add the leeks and stir to coat. Keep cooking until the leeks start to get golden and crisped at the edges. You’ll want to stir frequently throughout this process to keep them from burning; it’ll take something in the vicinity of ten minutes.
Add the green beans and dill and stir to mix. Throw in a splash of water (two or three tablespoons; a little less if your lid really fits well on your skillet) and cover the pan for a couple of minutes to steam the beans. I like mine cooked for two or three minutes, at which point they’re still very crispy, but if you prefer yours more on the cooked-through side, you may want to leave them for almost twice as long. If your beans are fresh, they’ll turn bright green when they’re just barely cooked, but your mouth is your most reliable doneness gauge in this case. (If you’re making enough for leftovers, either err on the side of undercooking or remove the portion you’re not planning to eat that night a minute or two early. That way they won’t get overcooked when you reheat them.)
When they’re cooked, remove the lid and allow any remaining water to boil off before transferring to a serving dish.
Serves 4-6 as a side