In Charlotte, NC – or anywhere in the South – you’ll likely find green beans served one of two ways:
Slow-simmered for hours until very, very, soft and liberally seasoned with salt, black pepper, and copious amounts of butter – and sometimes pork or bacon grease; OR
Underdone, crunchy, no dressing except for a parsimonious squeeze of lemon juice. Typically you’ll find this at the most pretentious – uh, expensive – restaurants. Usually this is called “haricots vert.” You may find as many as six or maybe even eight crunchy beans on your plate, which leads me to believe chefs at these places consider vegetables a garnish. That could explain why the more expensive the restaurant, the fewer vegetarian/vegan options.
And then there’s my way. Cooked but not overcooked, with plenty of flavor coming from not butter nor bacon, but onions, garlic, almonds, and a touch of nutmeg. And, of course, it’s vegan!
Let’s get cooking!
Southern Vegan Green Beans Almondine Ingredients:
1 pound Green Beans, fresh or frozen (but NOT canned)
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1 small Onion, cut in half and sliced (to make “ribbons”)
1 large clove Garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup Sliced Almonds
1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon Earth Balance (if you must)
Squeeze of Fresh Lemon Juice (optional, but nice)
Southern Vegan Green Beans Almondine Directions:
Prepare the green beans:
If using fresh, wash the beans and snip off the stem ends. I also like to snip long beans into bite-sized pieces.
If using frozen beans, take a quick look through them to make sure there are no stems or funky beans (shriveled, spotted, etc.)
Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Once warm, add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and almonds and saute another 1-2 minutes.
Add the beans to the pot. Add just enough water to cover the beans. Add nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover pot. Simmer for about 10 minutes for fresh beans, 15 minutes for frozen.
Check a bean. It should be tender, not “tender-crisp.” It should not be so soft it is losing its shape or falling apart (more of a problem with frozen beans.)
Drain the beans. Add a small pat of EarthBalance, if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Stir gently.
Serve and eat!
I like the flavor to be a bit subtle – “Hmmm, I think I taste garlic and is that nutmeg?” rather than, “Green beans with garlic and nutmeg!” This also keeps this a nice, neutral side that pairs well with almost any food!
However, if you really like garlic and/or nutmeg, feel free to use more!
Adding extra garlic – up to three cloves – makes this pair nicely with Italian food.
Adding extra nutmeg – up to 1/2 teaspoon – makes this a nice accompaniment to Indian food.
It may seem odd to saute the almonds (instead of adding them as the very last step), but by doing so the almonds pick up some garlicky flavor, while seasoning the oil with a slight nuttiness. Amazingly, after cooking they will still add texture and crunch to the beans.