Basic green beans are a go-to side dish at my weekly dinner table, but how to you make them a little more special for the holidays? Here's how to dress up basic green beans for your family feast. From herbs to nuts and seeds, or crisp crumbled bacon, cheese and dried fruit, there are delicious and easy options for everyone.
12 Ways to Dress Up Basic Green Beans
Green beans are a safe vegetable choice for any dinner because just about everyone eats them. While a drizzle of olive oil might do during the week, try these 12 ways to dress up basic green beans when you want to serve them for a holiday meal like Thanksgiving or Christmas.
1. Pomegranate Seeds and Pecans
Pomegranate seeds make everything look beautiful with their rich ruby color. Buy a whole pomegranate and open it yourself for the freshest seeds or buy the containers. Toasting pecans brings out their flavor, then chop if desired. These maple glazed pecans are over the top and great for snacking too.
2. Crispy Bacon or Lardons
Oven bake or fry whole bacon strips until crisp, drain then crumble or chop. Or try Lardons, the French term for slab bacon cut crosswise into ¼" match sticks and cooked in a frying pan until browned, then drain, cool, and resist eating it all. If you can't find slab bacon, use the best thick cut style available. Add chopped fresh flat leaf, Italian parsley or sage if desired and a sprinkle of homemade toasted bread crumbs.
3. Goat Cheese Crumbles and Chopped Herbs
Buy the tubs of pre-crumbled goat cheese for speed or get a log and crumble it yourself for no additives, then add copped parsley, thyme or sage.
4. Toasted Almonds, Herbs and Lemon Zest
This dish is traditionally called called Almondine and here's a recipe.
5. Toasted Pine Nuts, Cranberries and Herbs
Another colorful and tasty option. Toasting brings out the flavor in nuts and gives them a nice color. Toast them in a warm skillet for a few minutes until they are fragrant and lightly brown, being careful not to burn them. Nuts burn easily because of their high oil content. Toss with dried cranberries and herbs.
6. Sauteed Shallot and Garlic
Peel shallots and slice crosswise into rings and saute in either butter or olive oil over medium low heat until soft. Add finely chopped and smeared garlic, stir and cook for another 30 seconds. Cool and reserve at room temperature for serving time or refrigerate up to 3 days ahead. Here's my popular Thanksgiving Green Bean recipe with shallots.
7. Non-Dairy Vegan Cheesy Sprinkle
8. Non-Dairy Vegan Cheese Sauce
Vegan cheese sauce gets it's cheesy taste from nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, coconut milk and a little turmeric for color. It's good over lots of things and keeps in the fridge for a long time. Make it in a blender or food processor. Recipe here.
9. Sauteed Mushrooms and Fresh Herbs
Thinly slice white or brown mushrooms and saute in a little butter, ghee, or olive oil. You can add finely chopped and smeared garlic towards the end of cooking along with a sprinkle fresh chopped herbs such as parsley or thyme. My favorite splurge is peachy-golden colored wild Chanterelle mushrooms. Don't cut Chanterelles, choose smaller ones and leave them whole or with larger ones, tear them top to bottom into smaller pieces before sauteing in butter (dairy or non-dairy).
10. Roasted Red Onions with Balsamic
Roast sliced red onions in a casserole dish to bring out there natural sweetness, then finish with Balsamic vinegar or Balsamic syrup. Top your green beans with them and serve later with leftover turkey, roast chicken, or steak.
11. Simple Buttery Bread Crumbs or Croutons and Herbs
Homemade bread crumbs are easy to make and economical. Add fresh chopped herbs for more taste and color. Here's is how to make homemade breadcrumbs and you can do them a week ahead of time.
12. Maple Dijon Fall Vinaigrette
Try a combination of good extra virgin olive oil, red wine or pomegranate vinegar and a little Dijon and maple syrup, one of my favorite fall combinations. The Dijon emulsifies the vinaigrette and makes it creamy if you make it in a blender. Here's my recipe.
Try French Green Beans
Instead of the standard larger green beans, try the slender and tender French variety called Haricot Vert. They are my favorite. Just drop into boiling salted for 5 minutes, drain and serve hot with one of the options below. If making them ahead, shock in a bowl of ice water for 2-3 minutes, then drain and dry. Refrigerate for 3-4 days then reheat for serving.