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Green Beans with Black Garlic Sauce and Toasted Walnuts

By Heidi Allison

Achieving that vibrant, kelly-green color and snappy texture requisite for any California or French Nouvelle cuisine green bean dish relies on mastering a culinary technique called, “Blanch and Shock.” This easy, two-step process takes less than 10 minutes, and, you’ll get prefect results every time—crisp, tender, brilliant green veggies!


The first step, blanching, cooks the beans in a very large amount of rapidly boiling salted water for just a few minutes, which softens the cell walls and tenderizes the beans. The secret is to use a large amount of water so the rolling boil temperature returns quickly after you place the raw beans into the pot.

Like magic, the drab, olive-green chlorophyll in the green beans transforms to an exquisite, kelly-green color reminiscent of Irish spring grass. This transformation is the result of air trapped between the plant cells boiling off, making the cellular tissue more transparent.

At this moment, you STOP the cooking process by either rinsing the green beans in cold tap water or submerging in ice water— it’s the follow-up “shocking” step. This second step reduces the temperature of the green beans instantly, locking in that fresh color and crisp-tender texture. If you don’t cool down the green beans at this stage of the cooking process, that gorgeous, green color reverts back to the drab, olive- green tone nobody wants to eat. (This reversal in color happens because the chlorophyll molecules heat up and release magnesium—game over.) If you are serving the green beans at once, rinse with cold tap water to shock; if serving later, shock with ice water to retain color and texture.

In this dish, I like to use cold tap water to shock the green beans, and serve it at room temperature. The residual heat from the “blanched-and-shocked green beans” gently warms the soft, sweet black garlic, toasted red pepper flakes and olive oil into a magnificent, rustic-style sauce that enhances green beans flavor like no other. Black garlic, commonly used in Thailand, Vietnam and Japan, is fresh garlic that has been aged under a certain temperature and humidity for several months till it evolves to a chocolate brown color with a sweet taste and a gelatinous texture. Its sweet/savory flavor profile is reminiscent of molasses with a back note of fresh garlic. It’s addictive… Add a pinch of spicy red pepper flakes, and this green-bean side is elevated into a complex, satisfying dish that pairs especially well with pan-seared salmon, prime rib, ribs or grilled steak.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

Ingredients for Green Beans with Black Garlic Sauce and Toasted Walnuts

½ pound organic green beans, ends trimmed, strings pulled and cut in 2-inch pieces

2 heads black garlic, cut in half
1 Tbs. California extra virgin olive oil
1 small clove fresh garlic, peeled
2 pinches of kosher flake salt
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbs. toasted walnuts (optional)

Blanching water:

12 cups water
3 Tbs. kosher flake salt

Preparation:

Fill a large pot with 6-8 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of kosher flake salt and bring to a rolling boil

Fill a large pot with 6-8 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of kosher flake salt and bring to a rolling boil. Add green beans and cook till color turns a bright, vibrant green— about 2 minutes.

Immediately drain into a colander and rinse with cold water two times to stop the cooking process, and place into a large serving bowl.

Squeeze 1½ heads of black garlic cloves from cut heads over green beans, then micro plane fresh garlic, sprinkle red pepper flakes and drizzle olive oil over veggies and gently toss to combine.

Squeeze 1½ heads of black garlic cloves from cut heads over green beans, then micro plane fresh garlic, sprinkle red pepper flakes and drizzle olive oil over veggies and gently toss to combine. Top with walnuts (optional) and serve at room temperature.

This dish stores well in fridge and is great served cold as well.
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