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My cousin-by-marriage called me in January and wanted to visit Seattle for a few days; she desperately needed a break from caring for my wheelchair-bound cousin Michael and from her piano students. “Sure,” I replied and assured her that I would cook for her, let her sleep in, take her on walks and just let her hang out at Hotel Marilyn.
I stocked the house with all kinds of goodies and cooked vegetarian dishes that she could eat. To be honest, it is always hard for me to make things I love when my eaters have a lot of dietary restrictions. In this case, I had to provide strictly kosher, non-dairy, no oatmeal, no chamomile type of food. Alrighty then…
From her wonderful comments, I’d like to think Jessica loved Hotel Marilyn enough to rate it five stars. We didn’t do much really, but she truly seemed revived by the time she flew back home. We rented a terrific documentary Friday night called “Finding Vivian Meier” – a movie we chose out of the blue and truly enjoyed. Of course we ate ourselves silly: fish, lentil soup, challah and butter, brie and crostini and pears. And throughout her stay, music from her piano practice wafted down the back stairwell of the building. I hope my neighbors realized it was not me making the music! I only wish I could play half that beautifully…
In the midst of one of my grocery runs, she began telling me about a green bean dish that had Spanish overtones of shallots, smoky paprika and marcona almonds. I Googled and happily found the recipe and decided to make and take this to my brother’s for our family Saturday night dinner. It was easy, pretty and SOOOO GOOD! Honestly, I could have had this with leftover challah and been a happy camper. Before I left my house Jakey Boy came up to borrow baking soda and tasted a forkful of these beans, then another, and I had to stop him. He demanded to know if and when I was going to post the recipe.
This is my new favorite winter vegetable dish, a little different from my usual blast-in-the-oven-at-high-heat cauliflower or brussels sprouts. And let’s be clear: Marcona almonds, smoky paprika and shallots are three flavors that call my name. These savory elements enhance the green beans, provide a little texture difference and marry perfectly. I know it will be fantastic with any slightly sweet preparation of chicken or fish too. In fact, I am going to make a similar version with multi-colored, tiny potatoes, eliminating the nuts. How good will that be?!?
Spanish Green Beans
Via Jessica and adopted from Fine Cooking
- 1 ½ lb. green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup peeled shallots, cloves sliced into ⅛ inch pieces (I used about 3 very large ones)
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup coarsely chopped Marcona almonds (also called Spanish Valencian Almonds). The ones I bought were salted
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika (Paprika Ahumada)
Put about three inches of water into a three-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the beans to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, without covering, for about three minutes or until just tender. Remove to an ice bath until cold, then drain them and dry well with a towel. Set aside.
Put the shallots and olive oil in a cold 12-inch saute pan and place the pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the shallots begin to turn golden, stirring to break them into rings, about three to five minutes. Turn to low and sprinkle the sugar over the shallots and stir constantly until the shallots are golden all over, about 45 seconds. Quickly add the almonds, stir well, and immediately add the beans and smoked paprika. Cook, stirring, until heated through, two to three minutes. Taste and add salt if you wish – I love salt but my salted almonds gave enough punch to the beans. Let this sit at room temperature if you wish or serve immediately while warm.
PS: My entire Seattle family agreed that this was a wonderful vegetable side dish!