Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Nuts and Nut Oils: Green Beans with Almonds

Nut oils are very expensive. They are also perishable, not nearly as shelf-stable as refined oils. That's because nut oils are simply pressed, not treated with solvents and cleaned up before bottling. And, it's why they taste so good, retaining the flavors of the nut. They make a divine vinaigrette. Not everyone wants (or can afford) to spend $8 on a small bottle of oil. Know what? You can use nuts. They taste like nuts too. They are significantly cheaper than nut oil and more nutritious because they contain fiber, protein, and micronutrients. They are lower in calories than nut oils. Oils have 120 calories per Tablespoon. Nuts vary, but 2 Tablespoons of sliced almonds contain 66 calories. That's a pretty good bang for you flavor buck.

Want your salad to taste like almonds? Throw in some sliced almonds. Not only will your salad taste like almonds, it will have some great crunch too.

Green beans amandine is a classic French vegetable dish. This is a quick version of that dish. You cook some green beans, sauté the nuts in a tiny bit of oil or butter, then toss the beans with the sliced almonds. Now, isn't that simple? Impress your friends by called it green beans amandine. They don't need to know.

Here's more information on cooking fresh green beans.

Green Bean with Almonds (Amandine)
(serves 4, costs $1.50 to $2, depending on price of green beans locally)

1 pound green beans, washed and stem end trimmed
½ Tablespoon vegetable oil or butter
3 Tablespoons sliced almonds

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add green beans and cook for about 5 minutes, until they are crisp and bright green. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet big enough to hold the beans over medium heat. Add the almonds and toast them in the oil until they are golden and you can smell their toasty nut goodness. Add the beans and toss in the oil. Season with a light sprinkle of salt. Serve immediately.

You use frozen green beans here too. Cook them according to the package directions before adding them to the skillet.

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