Tag Archives: green beans

Garlicky Soy Honey Green Beans


One of the most popular requests I receive is for inspired side vegetable dishes.  Something easy, something delicious, something that (hopefully) everyone at the dinner table will eat.


Green beans are one of those vegetables that pretty much everyone likes.  You hear complaints about broccoli or eggplant or spinach, but green beans are quite well-loved, or at least pretty inoffensive.


This recipe takes this ho-hum vegetable and with a new preparation technique and just a handful of ingredients, transforms it into something altogether different than what you’ve likely encountered before.  It’s inspired by green beans I’ve eaten at Chinese restaurants.


Plus it doesn’t involve the oven or even steaming (a bonus for these summer months).  Sauté the green beans until they’ve blacked a bit, then add soy, honey and garlic and you’ve got yourself some mean beans.


And with this post, I’m going to say so long for a few months.  As I type, our London house is being packed up and on July 4th we fly back to the States (oh, the irony!).  We’ll be vagabonds for the summer traveling through California and the midwest, until we settle in Boston at the end of August, hopefully timing our arrival with that of our household goods from London.  I’ll be back with more recipes probably in September, once my Boston kitchen is up and running.  Enjoy the summer and happy cooking (and eating).  xo

1 year ago:  Salmon Salad with Dill and Capers

Garlicky Soy Honey Green Beans (serves 4 as a side dish)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

12 ounces (340 grams) green beans, trimmed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon honey

In a medium sauté pan heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat.  When the butter is melted, add the green beans and salt.  Cook, stirring the beans occasionally, until most are well-browned, shrunken and tender, 8-10 minutes.  (The butter in the pan will have turned dark brown.  If beans aren’t browned at 8 minutes, turn up heat a bit.)  While the beans are cooking combine the soy sauce and water in a small bowl.

Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the garlic is softened and fragrant, about 15 seconds.  Carefully add the soy and water mixture then the honey.  Cook, stirring, until the liquid reduces to a glaze that coats the beans, about 1 minute.

Transfer the beans to a serving dish, scraping the pan with the spatula to get all of the garlicky sauce, and serve.

Adapted from finecooking.com



Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Updated Green Bean Casserole


Earlier this week I was lucky enough to do a guest post on a fellow American expat in London’s blog, the lovely Angloyankophile.  She was looking for some inspiration for Thanksgiving side dishes and I thought this Updated Green Bean Casserole was just right.  Check out the recipe below and be sure to check out her blog as well.  She has lots of amazing London restaurant recommendations as well as beautiful lifestyle posts with home decor, jewelry, etc.  

Also, as Thanksgiving is less than a week away, good luck with your preparations.  Check out my other Thanksgiving recipes – Herbed Oyster Stuffing and Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Wine.  And stay tuned next week for a recipe for turkey leftovers.


As an American living in London, Thanksgiving is the holiday when homesickness creeps in most.  At Christmas, I miss my family, but there are cozy pubs with Christmas lunch, ice skating rinks galore, panto, Christmas markets, etc.  At Halloween there aren’t many decked-out houses in the UK, unlike suburban America, but there are kids trick-or-treating, carved pumpkins, and the occasional costume party.


But Thanksgiving in London is difficult.  Being on a Thursday, life continues on as usual.  There’s no lazing around the house during the day, chatting and playing games with friends and family, watching football, post-dinner walking and/or napping.  It’s a typical Thursday with work and school.


But we can still gorge ourselves silly!

Green bean casserole is one of the most traditional and revered of Thanksgiving dishes.  However when I finally fixed it myself (the beauty of Thanksgiving is everyone typically brings a dish, so someone else always made it) the reality hit that the majority of ingredients come from a can.




That’s not how I cook – and I think more and more people are getting away from canned, processed foods and cooking with whole, fresh foods.  So I set about updating this age-old favorite.  Canned green beans are replaced with fresh; condensed cream of mushroom soup is replaced with a homemade mushroom cream sauce and finally the topper of boxed “french fried onions” is swapped out for homemade fried onions.


I cooked this last week for an early Thanksgiving celebration with my parents who were visiting from Wisconsin.  My dad couldn’t get enough (honestly – he had it for breakfast the next day!) and he’s about as traditional as you get.  So if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or Christmas (goes just as well with a Christmas turkey) give this updated classic a try.  Sometimes it’s good to play around with tradition.


1 year ago:  Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Wine

Updated Green Bean Casserole (makes 6 servings or more if part of a big Thanksgiving / Christmas spread)

Note:  You can assemble the casserole without the fried onions the day before (fry onions day before too and store in zip-lock bag).  Store it in the fridge, then bake the next day according to recipe. If it’s coming directly from fridge, may need to add a few minutes to cooking time.  A wider (as opposed to a deeper) 2-quart dish is preferable as it will allow the crispy onions to spread out more.  But use whatever you have – it’ll taste the same regardless.  Keep whole nutmegs (they’re round and about the size of a plum pit) on hand and grate as needed.  I use a microplane grater but you can also use the smallest holes on a box grater.  Tastes so much better than ground nutmeg from a spice jar.
Crispy Onions:

Vegetable oil (as needed, about 16 oz or 450 ml)

3 tablespoons plain, all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper

2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced

Green Beans and Sauce:

1 pound (450 grams) green beans, rinsed, trimmed and cut in half

2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter

12 ounces (340 grams) mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons plain, all-purpose flour

1 cup (240 ml) chicken broth

1 cup (240 ml) half-and-half / single cream


Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C.

To make the crispy onions:  Heat a 1/2 inch or so of vegetable oil in a large skillet (approximately 12” or 30 cm diameter) over medium-high heat until a drop of water flicked into it will hiss and sputter.  While the oil is heating, place flour in a medium-sized bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Toss the onion slices in the seasoned flour.  Grab a handful of onions, shaking off excess flour, and fry in the hot oil in batches until light golden brown, about 3-5 minutes per batch (onions will get more color when they bake in the oven). Remove with a slotted spoon, letting excess oil drip back into the skillet, and place on a paper towel-lined plate or tray.

To make the green beans and sauce: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beans and cook for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.  (Beans may still seem a bit firm, but they will cook more in the oven.)

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to give up some of their liquid, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and nutmeg and continue to cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir to combine. Cook for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the cream. Simmer gently until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.  Stir in green beans and remove from heat.

To assemble the casserole:  Transfer the bean/mushroom mixture to a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with crispy onions and return to the oven for 5 more minutes or until casserole is bubbling and onions are a shade darker.  Serve immediately.

Adapted from Alton Brown and Smitten Kitchen


Filed under Holidays, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Broccoli, Beans and Peas with Sweet Soy Tahini Sauce


The kids are back in school!!  Time to tackle my never-ending to-do list.  In theory.  Not quite there yet.  My sister visited from NY this past week, so we had much more pressing things to do than tidying up the back garden or organizing summer holiday photos or sorting out the girls’ outgrown clothes.  But I do have a friend who is on the ball, doing a proper fall house purge, who kindly gave me a slew of unwanted cookbooks.


Can’t wait to check them out (Everyday Indian and Little Paris Kitchen look particularly good).  But before cracking open these new books, I vowed to dust off the cookbooks sitting on my shelves, untouched for the better part of the summer.


Earlier this year I posted an Ottolenghi recipe (Cauliflower Cake) from Plenty More, his most recent cookbook, and I have been keen to try more of his veg-centric recipes, especially with all the gorgeous fresh summer vegetables at the market of late.


So it was recipe nirvana – I found this recipe in Plenty More that got me salivating and I actually had all of the ingredients on-hand!!  Woop-woop!  Almost….his recipe calls for purple sprouting broccoli, and I’m pretty sure most of you don’t have that lying around, so I’ve swapped it for the much more accessible standard green broccoli.


This mixed veg dish won’t remind you of the sad little mixed vegetable sides so often served at restaurants.  The vegetables are boiled briefly so they’re slightly tender, but not mushy, then combined with sesame (from the tahini and the seeds), salty soy, sweet honey, fresh cilantro (coriander) and these beautiful little black Nigella seeds.  Serve it over quinoa for a vegetarian main.  Or just eat the whole thing as it is for your dinner….as I may or may not have done:)).

Broccoli, Beans and Peas with Sweet Soy Tahini Sauce (serves 4)

Note:  Walnut oil can be substituted with any nut oil or use vegetable oil or a mild olive oil in a pinch.  Nigella seeds are from a flower in the buttercup family and found in the head, similar to poppy seeds.  They look a bit like black sesame seeds but have a peppery taste and are often seen in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking.  If you don’t have you can substitute with black sesame seeds so you get the same color affect or just use more toasted sesame seeds.  If you do buy a jar, they’re nice sprinkled on salads.

10 ounces (300 grams) broccoli, about half of a medium head

4 ounces (120 grams) green beans, trimmed

6 ounces (180 grams) sugar snap peas or snow peas

1 tablespoon walnut oil

3/4 ounce (20 grams) cilantro/coriander leaves, about half of a bunch

2 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon nigella seeds (see Note)


2 ounces (50 grams) tahini paste

1 small garlic clove, minced and crushed with a heavy knife so it forms a paste

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/2 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and about 2 tablespoons of water; you want the consistency to be smooth and thick but pourable, a bit like honey; add a tiny bit of extra water or tahini paste if needed and whisk well.

Trim off the broccoli leaves.  If the stems are thick, cut them into two or four lengthways, so you are left with long and thinner stems, similar in proportion to the beans.

Bring a medium pot, with plenty of water, to a boil.  Blanch the beans for about 4 minutes, until just cooked but still having a bite.  Use a slotted spoon to lift the vegetables out of the water; transfer them to a colander, run under plenty of cold water.  Repeat the same process with the peas, cooking it for 2 minutes, and with the broccoli, cooking it for 2-3 minutes.

Once all the vegetables are cooked shake the colander to remove excess water.  Place in a medium-large bowl and mix with the walnut oil  Mix in most of the coriander and seeds.  Pour the sauce on top and finish with the remaining coriander and seeds.

Adapted from “Plenty More” by Yotam Ottolenghi

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Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian