Today's post was inspired by the holiday season and the ever so tricky task of cooking healthier dishes that still appease everybody at the dinner table! Soul Food Therapy asked me to join their blog carnival featuring healthy dishes this holiday season, so I thought a lovely plate of fresh green beans and red peppers were perfect for the occasion. My father and I had quite the lengthy debate this week about including old fashioned green bean casserole on our Thanksgiving menu - yes, that disgusting soupy mess covered in fried onion crumbs. I was appalled, to say the least. With all of the breads, starches and sweets we end up shoveling into our bellies that day, the last thing I want to do is drown my veggies in a thick cream sauce. In the end, I won that battle and also succeeded in convincing him that we don't need marshmallows baked on top of our sweet potatoes. But are you ready for my most surprising win this week? We're adding brussel sprouts to the menu! I've been trying to convince everyone that a salad would be an awesome change this year, but they were skeptical. Well, I cooked a warm brussel sprouts salad for a dinner party this weekend and my dad thought it was great. Veggies are winning over here!
Back to these green beans though. Call them Haricots Verts if you'd like to be fancy, or French green beans depending on where you buy them. Don't confuse these with French cut green beans, which are just regular string beans sliced thinly and usually come canned. Haricots Verts are my favorite type of green beans because they are so much faster to cook and don't need to be trimmed. They're long, skinny, and cook to crisp tender perfection in mere minutes. If you buy the microwavable steamer pack from your grocery store, you don't even need to take out an extra pot to blanch them first. Toss these babies in a bright sauce made with white wine, dijon mustard and fresh thyme, topped with crispy shallots, and you've got a winning dish on your hands. I used some leftover Riesling from my dinner party because I thought it added just the right hint of sweetness with the mustard, but any dry white wine you have will also do. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a Thanksgiving crowd, and the leftovers make a great cold salad the next day. I hope that you'll consider adding this fresh side dish to your menus this year!
Riesling & Dijon Haricots Verts with Crispy Shallots
1/2 lb Haricots Verts
1 c. thinly sliced red bell peppers
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 c. Riesling wine
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Several sprigs fresh thyme2 tbsp butter or Earth Balance®
Cracked black pepper
Servings: 2 to 4
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Equipment Needed: Large saute pan, microwave or pot with steaming basket
You know what I like most about this recipe? I already had everything in my fridge or pantry. If you cook a lot this time of year, you probably do too.
First step is to either steam your green beans or quickly blanch them. To steam, follow the directions on your microwavable bag, or use a large pot of water fitted with a steamer basket. Season the green beans with a pinch of kosher salt and steam until crisp tender, 3-4 minutes. Alternatively, to blanch the green beans, drop them in a pot of boiling salted water for a couple minutes until they are bright green and crisp tender.
Over medium heat, add the olive oil to your pan and throw in those sliced shallots. You'll want to keep an eye on them as they soften and start to brown rather quickly.
See what I mean? Another minute away from the stove and I would have had to toss this batch and start over! Cook your shallots just until they are deep golden brown and crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Season with a small pinch of salt.
Scoop out the shallots and set aside. Add the sliced red bell peppers to the pan and saute those a couple minutes until they soften up. Season with a pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper. Around this time Jaden usually smells something going on and comes begging like a puppy for bell pepper scraps. That kid loves eating bell peppers.
Remove the bell peppers from the pan and set them aside with your steamed green beans. Pour in some Riesling wine to deglaze the pan, and add to that the dijon mustard and thyme. Give everything a good stir to loosen up any brown bits at the bottom of the pan to release all that flavor into your sauce.
Let the sauce cook for a minute or so, then stir in a couple pats of cold butter (or Earth Balance® for vegans out there.) Season with plenty of cracked black pepper and a pinch of salt.
Throw those green beans and peppers back in.
Toss gently into the dijon sauce so that everything is coated. Heat just until the green beans are warmed through as they should already be tender. Season to taste with a little salt and pepper, if needed. Now squeeze some lemon juice over the top for a final touch.
Use tongs to transfer your green beans to a serving plate and drizzle with any remaining dijon sauce. Top with the crispy shallots and you're good to go! How beautiful is that plate? We're serving this for Thanksgiving but the colors are perfect for Christmas too! My dad was sold on the first bite and I know our dinner guests will be too.