If Green Beans Went to Southern Spain

The humble green bean gets a major makeover with flavors from Southern Spain. These beans are blistered in a very hot skillet, get a bit tipsy on Spanish brandy, take a bath in orange and za'atar, and are complemented by bitter radicchio, sweet raisins, and buttery crunchy marcona almonds.

Anyone who thinks green beans are boring has definitely not had green beans like this. These beauties are charred, snappy, and packed with interesting flavors and textures. Let's give this veggie the attention it deserves and celebrate it with a flavor makeover.

In particular, this dish focuses on the flavors of southern Spain. Dave and I spent some time in Granada last spring and absolutely fell in love with it. It's an incredible, vibrant city, and we had the most glorious week wandering the winding streets and hiking in the adjacent hills. Granada was also the inspiration behind my Roasted Lemon, Goat Cheese, and Za'atar Hummus and my reinterpretation of Patatas Bravas, so clearly the food there really made an impression.

These green beans are an homage to many of the flavors and ingredients we explored in southern Spain. Orange trees grow all over Granada, so these beans are bathed in orange zest and also finished with orange segments. North African ingredients are common there because Africa is close by, so these beans also feature raisins and za'atar. Let's not forget about those gorgeous Spanish marcona almonds, which basically taste like butter. Oh, and it's all kissed with a bit of Spanish brandy for good measure!

This epic platter of beans would be a welcome dish at virtually any meal, since it can transcend seasons. It would be equally at home at a summer BBQ as on the Thanksgiving table. I like to serve this dish hot, but I have modifications in the directions below for how to serve it cold and prep it in advance, so you have a lot of options.

I guess this is technically a "side dish", although I don't tend to think of my food that way. We've happily eaten the entire platter of these for dinner since the combination of the beans and almonds is definitely substantial enough to make a meal. You could also easily plate this on a bed of quinoa for additional protein and some complex carbs.

I hope I've convinced you to say goodbye to green beans that are overcooked and smothered in heavy sauces. Beans can be bright, vibrant, zesty, tart, sweet, and the best kind of indulgent. These will transport you to the orange trees and spice markets of Granada.

Oh, and go to southern Spain if you ever have the opportunity, it's amazing!

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram. 

I love cooking with citrus! It adds such wonderful flavor and acidity. If you're looking for other citrus ideas, check out this Glazed Carrot and Citrus Salad. It's equally as versatile and pretty.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are all just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)
  • 1.5 lbs green beans
  • Olive oil for cooking. I love a big, bold olive oil here. Bonus points for Spanish!
  • Generous salt and pepper
  • Couple oz Spanish brandy. Optional, but awesome if you have it. Other brandy will work fine.
  • Zest of a very large navel orange, or of two smaller oranges
  • Big handful of raisins
  • 0.25 c tangerine juice. Regular OJ will be okay too, but not as flavorful. I suggest fresh-squeezed, since this flavor is really the star of the show.
  • 1 tbsp za'atar. This is a lovely middle-eastern spice blend. If you can't find it, I'd substitute a combination of mostly cumin, plus sesame seeds and dried thyme leaves.
  • Small, orange-sized head of radicchio
  • Big handful of marcona almonds. These are the most divine, buttery Spanish almonds. Please try to get your hands on them, they're amazing! Most stores have them in small containers near the artisan cheeses and meats. 
  • Segments of the orange(s) that you zested
Thoughts About Method
(These are all just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. Trim the ends from the green beans.
  2. Add a splash of olive oil to a very large skillet and preheat for at least a couple minutes. You want to work with high heat for the beans, just below the smoke point of the olive oil.
  3. Carefully add the beans to the skillet. Toss them frequently until their sides are blistered but the beans still have some tender snap to them, about ten minutes.
  4. While the beans are cooking, cut your radicchio into ribbons and set it aside. This is also a good time to zest the orange(s) and cut out the segments.
  5. Decrease the heat in the skillet to low and let it cool down for a minute. Then deglaze with a big pour of spanish brandy, and let it flame up if that's how you roll.
  6. Add the orange zest and raisins, and let it all cook for a few more minutes. The raisins will plump up and the orange zest will become soft and fragrant.
  7. Add the tangerine juice and za'atar. Give it all a good mix, then allow the juice to cook down until most of the liquid has evaporated. Keep tossing the beans so that they steam evenly in the juice.
  8. Turn the heat off and add the radicchio ribbons. Give it a good toss, but only keep the radicchio in the skillet very briefly. You want to wake up its color and flavor without wilting it.
  9. Transfer everything to a big serving platter. If you want, you can set aside a handful of radicchio for garnishing. I like to spoon some of the raisins and orange zest over the top of the beans so they're easily visible. Add the marcona almonds (if you haven't eaten them all while you were cooking) and the orange segments. Serve immediately.
  10. (NOTE: I think this would work great as a cold dish as well. If you want to go that route, cook the beans as directed but don't add the radicchio or any of the garnishes. Let the beans cool almost completely, and only add the radicchio then so that it doesn't wilt. Keep it in a tightly sealed container, and add the almonds and orange segments just before serving).


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