Have you heard of Molly Stevens, cookbook author and food writer extraordinaire? If you read food magazines and lust after the beautiful photos of potatoes au gratin, lasagne, and roast turkey, chances are good that you have enjoyed some of Molly’s recipes and story writing.
Her cookbooks are award winning (James Beard and IACP, the equivalent of an Oscar and a Tony or Emmy) and lauded by some of the best in the business. She is a regular contributor for Fine Cooking, Bon Appetit, Eating Well, Saveur and Edible periodicals. She is a favorite of Martha Stewart and her delightful personality sparkles on television.
I highly recommend all of her cookbooks, many of which I own and that you can order from her website. She has authored or co-authored All About Roasting; All About Braising; The 150 Best American Recipes; One Potato Two Potato; The Best American Recipes 2002-2003, 2003-2004, and 2005-2006; and Williams-Sonoma New England New American Cooking.
She is a prolific writer, for which I am extremely grateful. In my opinion she took up where Julia Child and Marion Cunningham left off. She is a great teacher with a passion that is all consuming and infectious. Attend one of her classes and you walk away armed with new skills and knowledge that will make you fearless in the kitchen, or nearly so.
She is such a talented author that you will swear she is standing next to you as you make each recipe, use a new technique, or experiment with an interesting ingredient. Molly has a special affinity for American cooking and often recreates old favorites with creative twists and new techniques. Today’s recipe is a perfect example.
Green Beans Amandine (Almondine) is a classic that has been appearing on restaurant menus for decades. Typically you blanch the beans in boiling water, partially cooking them, and then finish them in a sauté pan with butter or oil. Molly’s version simplifies this by tossing all the ingredients together and then roasting them in the oven. During roasting the beans get slightly caramelized, giving them a slightly nutty flavor, which is complemented by the addition of the crunchy almonds.
If you haven’t tried Marcona almonds, you owe yourself the opportunity of unabashed indulgence. They are imported from Spain and are usually found lightly salted and oiled. My favorites also have fresh chopped rosemary sprigs. I could eat them by the handful, but try to control myself and save them for special occasions. You can find them at upscale grocery stores and most Trader Joes carry them, or you can order them online at tienda.com.
Marcona almonds are a bit softer and sweeter than regular almonds, but either can be used in this recipe. The addition of freshly squeezed lemon juice and zest add brightness and a little coarse salt sprinkled over the top adds just the right crunch and pop of flavor. Simply adding a few extra ingredients can elevate a boring every day vegetable into something fit for a festive dinner party.
These beans are elegant, easy to make, and would be the perfect accompaniment to Festive Friday’s recipe, coming in just a couple of days. Hang tight and you are in for a special springtime meal!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
You can snap the ends off the beans several hours in advance and store them in a plastic bag or covered container in the refrigerator. I usually lightly spritz mine with water first to help keep them fresher, but that is optional.
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 2 lb green beans, trimmed
- 1 onion, peeled, cut into 8 wedges (or rings)
- 6 large fresh marjoram sprigs (or oregano)
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse kosher salt
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp (packed) finely grated lemon peel
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped Marcona almonds or roasted regular almonds, divided
- Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 450°F. Spray 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray.
- Combine green beans, onion wedges, and marjoram in large bowl. Drizzle with oil, and then sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Toss; divide between prepared sheets.
- Roast vegetables 15 minutes. Reverse sheets (move the one on the bottom to the top and visa versa). Continue to roast until beans are tender and beginning to brown in spots, about 10 minutes longer.
- Transfer vegetables to bowl. Add lemon juice, grated lemon peel, and half of the chopped almonds. Toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle top with remaining almonds. Serve while hot.