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Roasted Green Beans

Another new recipe from the current issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine. These green beans are fantastic: the roasting process brings out their natural sweetness and converts tough, boring old supermarket beans into something special.

A caveat, however: if you have traditionalists at your Thanksgiving table, you may get some remarks about the look of this dish. The beans shrivel up and turn deep golden brown in the oven. They look nothing like the bright emerald-color green beans that you might be used to. But if you're willing to try something new, you won't be disappointed in the flavor. I ate nearly a half-pound of the beans straight out of the oven, all by myself, because their roasty goodness was so addictive.

As the Cook's Illustrated writer notes, sometimes grocery store green beans can be less than wonderful at this time of year. They can be tough and not very flavorful. With this roasting technique, you can reverse the aging process that green beans undergo as they mature. The high oven heat helps turn starches into sugars, making the beans sweeter. And the browning (known as the Maillard reaction) adds flavor to the beans that you just can't get by steaming or boiling. I highly recommend giving this technique a try. Even if you don't do it for Thanksgiving, try it another time. You won't be disappointed with the results.

The recipe below is for 1 pound of beans, enough for about 4 servings. If you need more beans, you can double or triple the recipe. Don't try to cook more than one pound of beans per baking sheet, however. They need to be spread out in a single layer to cook properly. Cook additional beans on additional baking sheets.

The magazine gives a couple of variations for the beans. I've listed one below, but didn't try it. I thought the beans were tasty enough straight out of the oven.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 pound green beans, stem ends snapped off
1 Tbsp olive oil
Table salt and ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread the beans on the baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss with your hands to coat. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of salt, toss again to coat evenly, and distribute the beans in an even layer. Roast for 10 minutes.

Using tongs, redistribute the beans on the baking sheet, and continue roasting another 5 to 10 minutes, until beans are beginning to shrivel and turn dark golden brown in spots. Grind some fresh black pepper over the top of the beans, transfer to a serving bowl, and enjoy.

Roasted Green Beans with Red Onion and Walnuts
Combine 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves, and 2 medium thinly-sliced garlic cloves in a small bowl; set aside. Follow recipe for Roasted Green Beans through the first 10 minutes of roasting, cooking 1/2 of a medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges, alongside the beans. Remove baking sheet from oven. Using tongs, coat beans and onion evenly with vinegar/honey mixture; redistribute in an even layer. Continue roasting until onions and beans are dark golden brown and beans have started to shrivel, about 8 to 10 minutes longer. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and toss well to combine. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with 1/3 cup toasted and chopped walnuts, and serve.

 

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Comments

I agree that roasting non-root vegetables is a great way to create new flavors.

Right now, in fact, I'm roasting eggplant and zucchini for the Cook's Illustrated Ratatouille (Sept/Oct 2001). The eggplant and zucchini are roasted at very high heat, then mixed with slow-cooked onion, chopped tomato, and basil for a final 5 minute cooking period. It makes for a great variety of flavors: mellow, sharp, sweet, and bright.

Do you know how roasting affects the nutrional profile of vegetables?

Interesting question, Marc. Off the top of my head, I'm unaware of any nutritional advantages or disadvantages to roasting over any other cooking method. A bit of Googling didn't turn up anything terribly enlightening.

I'd guess that roasting might keep more vitamins intact in the veggies than steaming or boiling does, just because there's no water for the vitamins to wash away into. But that's speculation on my part.

I love that ratatouille recipe from CI. The flavors don't get muddy, the way some versions of ratatouille can.

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