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[Photograph: Romulo Yanes]

Green beans with almonds is a hall of fame side, right up there with mashed potatoes. But while this is a dish that has the potential to be really wonderful, it rarely is, often veering into blah territory. Leave it to Mark Bittman to show us how to make the best version of this side standard, Green Beans with Crisp Shallots.

Bittman's go-to method for beans with a bit of bite involves briefly boiling the green beans, shocking them in ice water, and finishing them with a quick trip to the sauté pan. Tossed with crispy sweet butter and olive oil fried shallots, and almonds, if you'd like, this is the recipe that'll have your green beans moving out of blah territory and into much tastier place.

What Worked: Mushy green beans aren't too appealing. Bittman's blanch and sauté method ensures beans that hold on to a little snap. And the crisp shallots? Well, they just make everything even better.

What Didn't: All clear, this is the new go-to green bean recipe.

Suggested Tweaks: Take it away, Bittman:

"Boiling and then sautéing vegetables give you more control over doneness. Other vegetables that work well with this treatment: asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, snow and snap peas, any leafy greens, and turnips. Drain them well and keep them refrigerated until you're ready to use them, or use them right away sautéed in butter or olive oil (as with this recipe), in stir-fries, in salads, or as crudités with dip."

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of 'How to Cook Everything The Basics' to give away.

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