Did anyone else eat a version of green beans with almonds as a kid at just about every "fancy" family meal? My parents served it constantly, always slicked with a generous helping of melted butter. This green bean salad from The French Market Cookbook evokes that dish while adding its own twists. To increase the bulk of the salad, author Clotilde Dusoulier incorporates cooked red rice. Red rice is particularly nutty (and a fun color), so it works in harmony with the almonds themselves. In addition, she adds almond butter to the salad dressing; not only does the butter obviously up the nut factor, but it also acts as an emulsifier, so the dressing becomes luxe and creamy.
Why I picked this recipe: The pairing of green beans and almonds is one of my favorites, so this hearty take on that combo was an obvious choice.
What worked: The supremely nutty red rice was a perfect match for the rich almond butter vinaigrette. Elegant haricots verts brought the easy salad into dinner party territory.
What didn't: If you're fanatic about crisp-tender beans, you'll want to nix the steaming and gentle cooling technique for blanch and shock.
Suggested tweaks: You can substitute any brown or wild rice blend for the red rice. And if you're looking to mix it up with the nuts, hazelnuts and hazelnut butter would be fine alternatives. You could even try making the dish with sunflower seeds (and butter) if you need to go nut-free.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.