French beans with almonds

by sophie on September 12, 2007 · 7 comments

Post image for French beans with almonds

There are all kinds of tasty pod-based vegetables around at the moment and I am determined to make the most of them before we can only get them by flying them in from Kenya, Thailand and other far-flung countries. Over the last few weeks we have had the most amazing technicolour array of french beans, a vegetable I used to call the green bean. This seems like something of a misnomer now; so far this summer I have had yellow beans, purple beans and green beans as well as several variations on the stunning purple and green speckled beauties in the photograph.

We set off eating the beans very plainly cooked (steamed or boiled) but recently I have had a bit more time in the kitchen and have been trying to expand my vegetable preparation repertoire, while still retaining their ‘good for you’ status. French beans are best of friends with almonds but more often than not this combination is accompanied by large amounts of butter, something which seems a bit unnecessary when you already have all the natural butteryness of the nuts. My variation on this traditional French theme involves steaming the beans first and then adding the nuts, with just a hint of oil to coat. Steaming is great for preserving certain vitamins in your vegetables (the ones that are water soluble) because there isn’t much contact between the vegetables and the water, but you can boil or microwave your beans if you prefer. I have used almond oil for a little extra nutty flavour but don’t buy a bottle especially – olive oil would be just fine here. Chopping the beans up into small pieces was done on a whim but turns out to have the advantage that you get some bean and some nut in every bite (besides, I always think that really long beans can be a little ungainly when you have to fold them up onto your fork, especially with delicate flakes of fish!).

We have tried these with trout and chicken so far but they would make a good side dish for anything that isn’t too strongly flavoured. A few more french bean recipe suggestions that sound good are:

Chopped French Beans
Now don’t get upset, but I feel that it is only fair to warn you that if you do manage to find or grow some purple or stripy beans they will turn green when you cook them (the yellow beans stay yellow in case you are wondering).

Recipe for French beans with almonds and almond oil

Serves 2

200g French beans (any colours)
2 tablespoons almonds (the sort without skin)
2 teaspoons almond oil (or olive oil)

Top and tail the beans and then chop them into small pieces (as on the picture).

Steam the beans until just tender (boil or microwave if you don't have steamer).

Coarsely chop the almonds (if you have time toast them briefly first in a dry pan)

Toss the warm beans with the chopped almonds and almond oil and serve.


Kalyn September 12, 2007 at 13:47

Your beans are just gorgeous. I’ve never seen these striped ones; would love to try them.

Anh September 12, 2007 at 22:18

Aren’t fresh beans so beautiful and delicious? I love love how you cooked them. Simple and tasty!

Lucy September 13, 2007 at 00:01

Shame those colours aren’t retained, but what an elegant recipe Sophie.
I’ve just planted a tonne of bean seeds – looking forward to trying this when they fruit.

Robyn Vickers September 14, 2007 at 01:23

We, too, are inundated with beans at the moment in so many colours. What a wonderful way to serve them! Lovely blog, btw.

JennDZ_THe Leftover Queen September 14, 2007 at 12:09

What a beautiful beautiful photograph! Thanks so much for your comment. Your blog is delightful!

Sophie September 18, 2007 at 11:43

Hi Kalyn – the beans are beautiful, though I must admit they taste pretty much the same as their green cousins
Thanks Anh! I’m all for the simple recipe given a choice.
Lucy – I will be very jealous when you start posting about all of your wonderful home grown summer produce in a few weeks time when it is dark and cold here but I suppose it is only fair that we take it in turns to have summer
Hi Robyn and JennDZ – thanks for visiting and leaving such lovely comments!

the smallest kitchen August 26, 2008 at 18:08

Hi there,
Nice to find a blog like yours!
I tried cooking french beans for the first time, and actually got a very good result. I used pinenuts instead of almonds and parsley with a balsamic vinegar, olive oil dressing and taste ok! Oh! I also served it with bulgar wheat which is a good company I guess.
Have a look at this one as it is one of my favorites ways of cooking green beans.

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