Richard Olney, one of the great American authorities on the cooking of France, published Simple French Food in 1974. Alice Waters once claimed that the book was "one of my greatest sources of inspiration for cooking at Chez Panisse." The book is uncompromising in its authenticity (the "simple" of the title is a relative term), but some recipes are truly inspired combinations.
This one for haricot panaché, buried in a paragraph in the middle of the book, caught my eye: beans on beans, tossed with parsley and loads of butter. It's meant to accompany roast leg of lamb, but I found it delicious all on its own, the creaminess of the white beans adding a vegetal richness, the snap of the string beans bringing crunch.
- 2 large handfuls haricot verts or green beans
- 1 14-ounce can white beans (such as cannelini), drained
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 small handful chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the green beans until just tender.
In the meantime, drain and rinse the beans and chop the parsley. Warm the beans in a small skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter.
Drain the green beans and toss into the skillet along with the parsley. Add salt and a healthy portion of pepper, then remove from the heat and add the remaining butter.