Green beans are not glamorous. And they’re not voluptuous like tomatoes, or sultry like eggplants. When picked young they’re cute and flexible and have a very green taste, which is fine, but to my palate it always falls a bit flat. It’s now green bean season, and they need our help.
For some reason I got it in my head that walnuts would be good with green beans, so I’ve been playing around with that concept. First I tossed them with a walnut pesto, which tasted really good but looked like a clumpy mess. So I then decided to deconstruct my pesto, adding each ingredient to the beans individually so the texture would be chunkier, not creamy. And the taste became clear, lively even.
If you would like to have a good, solid low-carb summer meal, make these string beans. Serve them with a grilled steak (I used a hanger rubbed with a bit of smoked paprika), and a simple heirloom tomato salad, dressed with your best olive oil, sea salt, and a scattering of mint leaves. Open up a bottle of Sangiovese, ditch the bread, and transport yourself into end-of-summer low-carb heaven. This meal really lifted my mood.
Green Beans with Walnuts, Basil, and Lemon Zest
About ¾ pound green beans, prepped
½ cup very fresh walnut halves, lightly toasted and then roughly chopped
1 summer garlic clove, minced
The grated zest from 1 large lemon
About 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
A big pinch of ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
A handful of basil leaves, ripped in two
Set up a medium pot of water, and bring it to a boil. Drop in the green beans, and blanch them until they’re tender but still have a touch of crispness. Drain them well, and put them in a nice looking serving bowl.
Add all the other ingredients, and toss well. The heat from the beans will release all the oils and essences of the nuts, herbs, garlic, and lemon, making the beans quite fragrant. I hope you’ll like it.