Godly Greens: My fresh green beans with aromatic butter.
The flavours of summer are subtle but encouraging. The scent of lemons tells of far away lands and carries warmth with it. Garlic gives a depth of flavour to meals shared with friends. And the green tenderness of fresh summer beans promises a fruitful harvest. A summer dish, to me, should capture simple flavours, without much distraction. It should be light and fast to make. My green beans with aromatic butter seem like the perfect fit. The tender young beans, almost smothered with butter, make for an excellent light lunch. Mild shallots give body and add a bit of sharpness, to the warmth of cumin, freshness of lemon and sweetness of sugar. Served with a few chunks of good ciabatta or crunchy baguette, this dish gives big flavour for little effort. If you are looking for something that takes less than 10 minutes to make but will fill your stomach and soul, definitely give this one a go.
Things have been kind of slow on here for the past couple of weeks. And maybe that’s for the better. A bit of a break can’t be all that bad. It seems that I won’t be quite done with setting up the new site for the anniversary, but then again: that doesn’t really matter. It’s not like I have to meet somebody else’s deadline. I am the one making the calls around here.
I have waited and waited and waited with posting this dish for quite a few months now. It is one of my favourite summer dishes, but it will only live up to its full potential when it is made with summer beans. It is true heaven on a plate. The beans are best when they are fresh and tender. If they are too thick, they will be rather stringy, which certainly has an appeal in more rustic dishes, but my green beans with aromatic butter are anything but rustic. Although smothered with quite a bit of butter, the beans are light and subtle. They are the perfect dish for a warm summer lunch, as they nourish you, but won’t leave you all too full. The creamy and soft butter, goes incredibly well with the shy greens. Mild shallots add a bit of sharpness and body, the fresh garlic supports the beans beautifully, as does the sugar. Cumin is one of my favourite spices, as it seems to add a depth of flavour that is rather unique. To balance the creaminess and richness of the butter, I like adding a bit of lemon juice and for an almost floral touch the zest of a ripe lemon. Flavours of summer, just the way I like them – subtle but encouraging. Enjoy this dish with a big slice of ciabatta or a good baguette and a chilled white wine. And most importantly: with a few good friends. Because summer-meals are to be shared. As are laughter and happiness.
My fresh green beans with aromatic butter
Green beans Soft butter Shallots Cumin Salt Pepper Sugar Lemon Garlic
I like serving this dish as a main. With a few slices of good ciabatta or baguette. Per person I use about 200 g of beans and maybe 25 g of butter. But who’s measuring? It’s advisable to make a bit more butter, people love spreading it on bread, long after the beans are gone. If you feel like it, have a nice dry white wine or, even better, vinho verde with it. Yolo and all.
The butter: There are no exact measurements for this dish. Too much of the beauty of this dish depends on the unique qualities of the ingredients, that’s why I’ll give only rough pointers. The best thing to do is to make extensive use of your pinky and taste buds, or a spoons if you’re posh.
The butter for this recipe needs to be soft, add it to a bowl. For about 100 g of butter, dice one shallot finely and add it to the bowl. Grate in a few pinches of lemon zest (organic and briefly rinsed under hot water). Add salt and pepper (I like it rather salty), plus about half a teaspoon of sugar. Mash a very fresh clove of garlic and add a bit of the mush (only a few tips of a knife, the garlic is to support, not to overpower the beans). Add a few pinches of cumin and give everything a good mix with a fork. Finally, squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice (maybe half a teaspoon) and give a final stir.
The beans: In the mean-time bring a large pan with water to a boil. Add salt and sugar to the water, so that you can taste both. Rinse your beans and cut off the stalky bits, if necessary. Add to the boiling water and cook til tender for about 6-10 minutes (this depends entirely on how fresh, young and thick the beans are). Drain and shake dry. Add to a bowl and mix with a bit of the butter.