The Green Bean Specialist

For many who cook, it is therapeutic, and, for others, it is a chore. I fall into the former category.

Cooking provides me with a source of creativity and freedom that I relish and one where I can add a splash of whimsy whenever I want with a little more of this or less of that. The best part is watching others savor every bite. Because of my early days spent in the kitchen with family, cooking grounds me and nourishes my body and soul.

That is why I do most of the cooking in our house. Because I "need" to cook. Admittedly, David is a great cook and enjoys it tremendously, but, he steps in mostly when only he can do the work (grilling, for example, which I do not do) or if he makes the dish better, as he does with green beans.

David is the green bean specialist. The beans are cooked to perfection--al dente but not too hard, tender but not spongy. Flavorful but simple. And, honestly, even after countless discussions about how he makes such fantastic green beans, I still insist he makes it. Sure, I could make the green beans, but why when his green beans are so good?

Now that these slender, manganese filled beauties are in season, I have been coercing a farmer to sell me a half bag of green beans every week. Last week, when Sonny Naegelin saw me headed his way, he knew exactly what I wanted. "More green beans, please, but just a half bag," I said grinning from ear to ear. He smiled, nodded and while he bagged me a half order, I promised to return with a big bag of Original Stock Cowgirl Granola, his favorite.
The way David prepares green beans is probably nothing unusual, really, but maybe it is the utter simplicity that makes it so special. The trick is to find the freshest green beans you can. The ones from a farmers market are picked at most 48 hours, but more likely 24 hours before purchase. Unlike grocery store varieties, these green beans didn't travel 1,400 miles and reach me two weeks after being harvested and that's a huge difference in flavor.

David simply blanches the beans and then sautes them with garlic. At the end, he adds lemon juice and tosses in the zest and a dollop of butter.

The best part of David's green beans is that we eat them with our fingers. Eating with your hands always makes everything better, doesn't it? Not that these green beans could be any better, but try it at home and let me know what you think...

Buen provecho!
Green Beans with Garlic and Lemon
The Cowgirl Gourmet's husband, David, makes this recipe

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Tender but not soggy, al dente but not hard, this recipe really lets the beans shine. Garlic, green beans and lemon. What's not to love?

Serves 2 as an entree or 4 as a side

1 pound green beans, rinsed and trimmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
3-5 garlic cloves (or more), peeled and sliced
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon lemon zest or thinly sliced lemon peel
1 tablespoon butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Maldon salt, for plating

Fill a non-stick saute pan with water, add a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the green beans. Gently nudge the green beans in the pan so they all get covered with water. It will take a few minutes to bring the water back to boil, so be patient.

We cook the beans 5-7 minutes. Test a green bean and taste it to see if it's cooked the way you like it. If it is, drain the beans in a colander and if it's not, cook them longer. When ready, drain beans and set aside.
Using the same saute pan, dry it out, place over medium high heat and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is hot, toss in the garlic and and stir to coat. After about 30 seconds, add in the green beans and begin to toss so every green bean is coated with olive oil. Stirring frequently will ensure that the garlic does not burn and the green beans cook evenly.

This will take about 2-3 minutes and then squeeze a half of a lemon in the pan and stir to coat.
Toss in the lemon zest or sliced peel and butter, sprinkle generously with kosher salt or Maldon salt and add lots of freshly ground black pepper.

Stir again so all of the flavors meld. Taste a bean and add a little more salt or olive oil, if needed. While hot, serve generous portions, sprinkle with a touch of Maldon salt and dive in.

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