For a Thanksgiving offering, I sought tips from my Facebook friends on how I might transform ordinary green beans into something extraordinary. I got dozens of great suggestions and decided to devise a composite of some of the best of those ideas. The result went over so well I decided to share it. A special thanks, in particular, to my former colleague Andria Simmons and cookbook authors Nancy McDermott and Sheri Castle for their ideas!
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 medium orange
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons thinly slivered fresh ginger
1 tablespoon thinly slivered fresh garlic
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted unsalted cashews (or other nuts)
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add beans and blanch until crisp-tender and bright green, 3-5 minutes depending on size of beans. Drain in a colander, then plunge into an ice bath to stop cooking. Drain beans again and pat dry with paper towels. (Beans may be blanched a day ahead and wrapped in paper towels to absorb extra moisture, and then stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.)
2. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, orange zest, and red pepper flakes. Meanwhile, set a wok or a skillet over high heat. Add oil; swirl around to coat the pan. When hot, add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for about 5 seconds, then add beans and soy sauce mixture and cook until liquid is evaporated, 2 or 3 minutes. Add cashews; stir fry 1 minute longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 servings.