Green Beans with Browned Butter and Hazelnuts

Chow on 11.23.09
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Browned butter is magical. It can transform the most boring vegetable into something fancy and restaurant-style. I'm not saying that green beans are boring (though they certainly can be) but instead of the ordinary boiled, microwaved or steamed green beans, try this recipe instead.

Browning butter is incredibly simple. Heat pan. Add butter. Stir until browned. The trick is to NOT burn the butter! What happens is that the butter becomes mellow and nuttier. Bathe those green beans in that nutty butter!

I've also added roasted and chopped hazelnuts to this recipe, which makes it truly worth for Thanksgiving dinner.

Oh, and those shallots? That's the genius idea from my friend, Shelisa, who came over to help me cook, test recipes and photograph today.

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To toast whole hazelnuts still in their brown skin (but out of their hard shell) - heat a frying pan or saute pan over medium heat and let the hazelnuts roll around in that pan for a few minutes. The skin will start browning, the house will smell lovely and you'll get yourself some dry-toasted nuts.

Of course, you can do this in the oven too, but I find that everytime I roast nuts in the oven, THEY ALWAYS BURN. Purely my incompetence for not being able to pay attention to the nuts in the oven.

Once they are toasted, use a rubber garlic peeler thingy to remove the brown skin of the hazelnuts. Okay, Shelisa removed the skins.

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Then coarsely chop up the nuts:

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Now, for the browned butter - it's easy too. Heat up a pan, add butter. Keep the heat on medium. See it browning?

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Now add the shallots and saute

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Green Beans with Browned Butter and Hazelnuts Recipe

1/4 cup shelled whole hazelnuts (unroasted and unsalted)
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 large shallots, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher/sea salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat a saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the hazelnuts and toast the hazelnuts until the skins are dark brown but not burned. Keep the heat low so that you don't burn the hazelnuts. It should take about 6-7 minutes. Let cool enough to handle and rub the skins off. You can use a towel or a garlic peeler. Coarsely chop and set aside.

2. Add 1 cup water to the saute pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the green beans and cover with lid. Steam the beans for 3-4 minutes, until just tender. Immediately drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking.

3. Wipe the saute pan dry and return to the stove on medium-high heat. Add the butter and let the butter brown and bubble. Once the butter is browned, add the shallots and saute for 1 minute. Pour in the balsamic vinegar and the green beans. Use your spatula or large spoon to scoop up some of the browned balsamic butter up and over the green beans. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.