"These taste like green bean casserole -- only healthier!" She said, her face flush with enthusiasm as she forked the vibrant green beans into her mouth.
I smiled -- it was the best compliment I could receive from my seven months pregnant sister-in-law. For years, my family has teased her about her love of the canned casserole monstrosity, but she has always maintained a staunch allegiance to her family's favorite Thanksgiving tradition. To hear her praise my addition to her and my brother's baby shower this past Saturday evening, felt like a victory for foodies everywhere.
Green beans don't have to be drenched in unsightly mushroom soup and fried onions to be a crowd-pleaser -- sometimes all they need is a simple treatment -- some fresh herbs, a sprinkle of salt, and a hefty portion of sauteed leeks. This dish is, in many ways, the food version of the little black dress that can be absolutely stunning with just one or two subtle, yet impactful accessories. The green beans were surprisingly flavorful, and by the time we finished eating this Saturday night, the serving dish had been scraped bare.
I'd been wanting to make the vibrant veggies ever since the recipe appeared on 101 Cookbooks this past November. My interest in the side dish only grew after reading Esi's write-up of the recipe on her blog, Dishing Up Delights, and hearing my friend Ashley's praise of the dish as well. It was incredibly easy to prepare (especially with Esi's helpful suggestions to reduce the amount of dill, and saute the leeks for longer than 7-10 minutes), and looked very festive in my mother's frog dish serving bowl. The vegetable passed the once-over test with flying green colors. Just like a little black dress, the beans truly were a show-stopper on the buffet table, and more importantly, won over my casserole-loving sister-in-law with their show-stopping fresh taste.
Vibrant Green Beans
(Adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
6 leeks, well washed, root end and tops trimmed, sliced lengthwise into quarters and then chopped into 1/2-inch segments
1/2 cup fresh dill, well chopped
1 1/2 pound green beans, tops and tails trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
Extra-virgin olive oil
In a large thick-bottomed skillet of medium-high heat add a generous splash of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and the leeks. Stir until the leeks are coated and glossy. Cook, stirring regularly until a lot of the leeks are golden and crispy. (Roughly 10 - 12 minutes)
Steam green beans until slightly tender, and then add to the pan with the leeks. Stir in the dill and serve immediately.
Serves about 12.