Why It Works
- Blanching the green beans in a pot of salted water and shocking them in an ice bath gives them a bright green color and tender-crisp texture.
- Deeply toasting the almonds in butter over very moderate heat helps develop flavor without risk of burning them.
- A mixture of garlic and shallots adds more flavor to the butter.
- An emulsion of water and browned butter forms a smooth, glossy sauce for the green beans.
Haricots verts amandine—the classic French dish of green beans with almonds—is an easy, crowd-pleasing side. But, as is so often the case with simple preparations, the difference between mediocre and great is all a matter of technique.
Note: This recipe is excerpted from my upcoming book, The Food Lab, Volume II. For updates on the book and its release, please check my website, where you can sign up for my newsletter and find links to purchase my first book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science (2015).
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound (450g) green beans, trimmed
- 3 tablespoons (about 35g) unsalted butter
- 3 ounces (85g) slivered almonds
- 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (25ml) juice from 1 lemon
- Freshly ground black pepper
Blanch the beans. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Add green beans to boiling water and cook until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer to ice bath using a wire mesh spider or tongs. Allow to chill completely, then drain and dry thoroughly with kitchen towels or paper towels.
In a medium skillet, heat butter and almonds over medium-low heat and cook, stirring frequently, until almonds are deeply browned and nutty, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes longer. Add lemon juice, along with a tablespoon or two of water. Increase heat to high and stir and shake pan rapidly to emulsify, about 30 seconds. The sauce should have a glossy sheen and not appear watery or greasy. If it's still watery, continue to simmer and shake. If it looks greasy, add another tablespoon of water to re-emulsify. When sauce is ready, remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add beans to pan with sauce and toss to coat and combine. Return to medium heat and cook, tossing, until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.
This recipe can be prepared through the end of step 2 several days in advance. Store the blanched green beans and sauce separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator. To finish, reheat the sauce in a skillet over high heat with a tablespoon of water until the sauce melts back into a liquid, then proceed with step 3.