This is a basic preparation (more of a technique than a recipe) for first blanching and later sautéing string beans. The method results in perfect, bright green, tender-crisp beans, and lends itself to many tasty finishes—see the box for ideas.
1 lb. fresh string beans, washed and trimmed
2 Tbsp. butter or oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fill a large soup or pasta pot with water and set to boil, adding a tablespoon or so of salt once it simmers. When the water comes up to a full boil, toss in the trimmed beans and stir gently. Stir again after a minute. Cook for three minutes total, then empty into a colander and refresh under cold running water until no beans remain warm. Shake out excess water and set beans aside. (At this point, beans can be stored in a covered container in refrigerator until just before serving.)
When ready to serve, heat a large sauté pan at medium high, adding the butter and letting that melt until it’s bubbling. Toss in the beans and sauté them, stirring, until warmed through, probably just a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if you like.
Present family-style in a large bowl.
Nutty & Nice
Sauté one quarter cup minced shallots in four ounces butter until soft, then toss in the blanched beans, half a cup of fresh bread crumbs, and half a cup of ground toasted hazelnuts. Sauté until beans are hot, about three minutes, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
Mix together in a small bowl a dressing made of one tablespoon lemon juice, one teaspoon of zest from a fresh lemon, one tablespoon chopped fresh dill, one tablespoon olive oil, and one teaspoon of Dijon mustard. After heating the beans in olive oil in a large sauté pan, toss them with the dressing, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
Cook four strips of bacon until crispy, then drain on paper towels, crumble, and set aside. Sauté half a red onion in one tablespoon of the bacon drippings until caramelized, then toss in the beans and sauté until hot. Add the crumbled bacon and season with salt and pepper before serving.
Heat sesame or peanut oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, then stir in two cloves of thinly sliced garlic and sauté until the garlic just begins to brown. Quickly stir in two tablespoons soy sauce and two tablespoons oyster sauce. Add the blanched beans and sauté quickly until hot, sprinkling with one tablespoon white sugar as you stir.