French Green Beans with Baby Bella Mushrooms
This is the time of the year when haricots verts ("green beans" in English) are available everywhere. Don't be fooled by fancy-schmancy French names; the main difference from the regular kind is that these are thinner, more delicate green beans with a crisper texture. Either way, green beans are a great ally in the struggle to keep healthy (especially after days of eating heavy Thanksgiving food).
They're rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals; I think they're also a great side dish that makes you feel full without packing on the calories. I sautéed the French green beans with baby Bella mushrooms for added flavor and also incorporated caramelized onions, thyme, oregano and basil.
Yields: 8 servings10 ounces haricots verts (French green beans)
10 baby Bella mushrooms, sliced lengthwise
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly cracked
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 sprig thyme, chopped
1 sprig oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons basil, finely chopped
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup vegetable stock
Wash the green beans. Blanch them for about 3-4 minutes in boiling water and transfer into an ice bath. Drain and pat dry on a paper towel. Do not over-cook the green beans as they will finish cooking in the pan. Trim the ends of the beans if necessary. Set aside.
In a non-stick pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced onions and slowly cook (it may take 5-7 minutes) until caramelized, stirring often. Transfer to a plate, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Set aside.
In a small bowl, dissolve the flour in 2 tablespoons vegetable stock. Whisk well. Set aside.
In the same pan, add the baby Bella mushrooms and sauté until softened. Add the oregano, thyme and 1 tablespoon basil. Add the beans and caramelized onions. Toss well, leaving the heat at the highest setting for about 2-3 minutes. Add the flour liquid, the remaining vegetable stock and olive oil. Continuously stir as it will thicken very quickly. Season with salt (this step will ensure a bright green color) and black pepper. The green beans should still be crisp at this point, not mushy.
Haricots verts are available this season in many markets. You can find them at Trader Joe's, Costco and in farmers' markets. If you don't have haricots verts, just substitute with the thinnest young, fresh, green beans you can find. To check for quality and freshness, just break one in half; it should snap and be crisp.
Baby Bella mushrooms are young, smaller-sized Portobello mushrooms. They're also known as Crimini mushrooms.
For more crunch, you could add slightly dry-toasted sliced almonds.November 30, 2011.