We’ve made it to August in Wisconsin: the simplest, most glorious, most delicious time to be a lover of local food. The bounty is apparent everywhere– in gardens, in CSA boxes, and at farmers’ markets. Friends share their tomato bounty and try to push their CSA zucchinis on each other. Incredible flavors abound without much work. It’s a no frills time of the year and though I love frills (see exhibit A ,B and C), August reminds us not to work so hard.
When one thinks of August eating in Wisconsin, their minds usually go immediately to the big three- tomatoes, sweet corn and watermelon- and though all three of those tasty treats will be finding their way into our CSA boxes this month, there are another couple summer highlights that deserve a seat at the table. Like fresh summer beans. I love fresh green beans, ideally in an array of colors.
Like so many vegetables, green beans get a bad rap and obviously it’s all our parents’ fault. A side of mushy green beans straight out of the can or thawed from the freezer never appealed to me (or likely anyone else). Green beans were always that notorious green thing on the table no one wanted to touch, but fresh green beans that still have snap in them when you take them out of the bag: those things are magical.
And the best part, they take almost no work. Just like the other great summer veggies we’re sending out in our CSA shares right now, a simple preparation is the best way to go. Like I said early, it’s a no frills time of the year. I’m sure I’ll continue to remind you of this often.
My favorite way to eat green beans takes 15 minutes and involves five ingredients. It is the perfect accompaniment to any meal whether you decide to go fancy or stay a bit more simple. We paired it with ribs, potato salad and corn bread last night, but it is just as lovely thrown in a container and taken on a picnic with some ham sandwiches.
When I already packed my Carrot a dinner for the farm and he’s staying there late, I’ll often even whip myself up a batch of these green beans at home and devour the whole thing for my meal. A quick saute. A gentle steam. A touch of almonds, a couple tablespoons of butter and a pinch of fancy salt. Voila! The perfect dish to balance out all the tomatoes I ate for every other meal of the day.
GREEN BEANS WITH BUTTER & ALMONDS
Takes 20 minutes
1 teaspoon neutral cooking oil (I love hazelnut oil if you happen to have it, otherwise plain old Canola will do just fine)
1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/3 cup almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Flaky sea salt, optional
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet. As usual, cast-iron is best. Add green beans, turn the heat up to medium high and cook for 5 minutes, until the beans start to blacken in place.
- Add 1/2 cup water, turn the burner down to medium, and cook until no water remains, about 3 minutes. Continue cooking 2 minutes longer than add your almonds. Cook until mixture smells nutty and almonds are toasted, about 2 minutes more.
- Remove the pan from heat. Add butter and swirl the pan until it melts. Serve immediately. Season with flaky sea salt.