Green & Yellow Beans with Ginger, Chili, and Gruyere

 In side, special diet, vegetarian
Green & Yellow Beans with Ginger, Chili, and Gruyere

Since Thanksgiving is almost upon us, I’ve been thinking about what to make this year in addition to the usual turkey. I tend to avoid the other Thanksgiving staple – green beans. Why are green beans a tradition at Thanksgiving? I’ve wondered about it for a while, since they weren’t a food that the pilgrims ate originally. From doing a little bit of research, it seems that the tradition might have started as a marketing ploy when Campbell’s introduced the greens beans casserole for Thanksgiving as a tactic to sell their cream of mushroom soup. Ingenious! Like the diamond engagement ring, which also started as a marketing campaign, by De Beers, and now it’s firmly ensconced as a tradition.

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Ok, back to green beans. I used to actually dislike them, they always seemed bland and boring and blah. But a couple of years ago while doing my usual happy walk around the farmers market in my neighborhood, staring at the bunches of flowers, loaves of artisanal bread, little mounds of cheese, pretty speckled eggs, the vibrant veggies – I came upon these green and yellow beans. And they were beautiful! They seemed so different from the versions suffocating in plastic wrap in grocery stores. There weren’t just green and pale yellow ones, but also deep purple and burgundy ones, even some striated reddish ones.

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I decided to try them out. I found out these were known as haricots vert. They’re thinner and more tender than the usual green beans. I started getting mixes of these and experimented with them at home. Over the last couple of years, I’ve made a few versions that I really like. This version here is a little bit spicy (but not too much), the ginger adds a nice subtle zing, and I add shredded cheese at the end – that just makes it extra yummy! The black mustard seeds add a sharp crunchy bite that contrast nicely with the tender beans. These green (and yellow) beans are definitely not boring! And I think of this dish as the American melting pot – with the bengali mustard seeds, the european gruyere cheese, and the american beans!

While I can never resist getting the purple beans, they don’t stay purple when cooked – they turn green. So don’t worry if you can’t find purple beans.

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Green & Yellow Beans with Ginger, Chili, and Gruyere

SERVES: 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups green beans (I use a mix of green, yellow and purple haricot vert beans)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 -1 small green chili, chopped and seeded (1 chili makes it quite spicy)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves, de-stemmed
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated cheese (I use gruyere)

METHOD

  1. Rinse the beans, snip off the ends, and cut the beans in half.
  2. Heat water in a pot. When it comes to a boil, add the beans and cook for about 3 minutes (haricot vert is more tender and cooks faster than traditional green beans).
  3. Remove the beans from the pot, and rinse in a colander under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside to drain.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add ginger and stir fry for about 45 seconds.
  5. Add mustard seeds. As soon as they start sputtering (almost immediately), add the green beans, chili, and salt. Stir fry for about a minute.
  6. Add the cilantro leaves and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat to the serving plate.
  7. While the beans are still hot, shred cheese over the beans on the serving plate. Serve immediately.
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