I came across this recipe in a Cooks’ Illustrated magazine recently. What caught my attention was that their favoured method of cooking green beans here is similar to the Chinese stir-fry-steam-style of cooking. Most cookbooks will ask you to blanch, boil or steam the beans prior to tossing them in a hot skillet but the CI Test Kitchen prefers the flavour of the beans cooked this way – the beans are first browned in a skillet before being steamed-cooked.
I never knew how to cook green beans properly this way, didn’t know how long to stir-fry it and how long to steam it for. I’m very glad I found this recipe. The flavour can be easily changed with different toppings or sauces.
Skillet Green Beans with Spiced Walnuts
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped coarse
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup water
1. Toss the walnuts in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and cook, stirring constantly, until the butter is browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sugar, ginger, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer the walnut mixture to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels.
2. Heat the oil in the skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Add the green beans and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
3. Add the water, cover and cook until the green beans are bright green but still crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. (Cook’s note: At this point, you should be able to smell the beans, a sign that it’s cooked) Uncover, increase the heat to high and continue to cook until the water evaporates and the beans are crisp-tender and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes longer.
4. Off the heat, stir in the reserved walnut mixture. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, and serve.