(Note: this post was originally published on April 19, 2020. It was updated in November 2022 with a few tweaks.)
Green Beans, Reinvented
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 these veggies the attention they deserve and celebrate them with a flavor makeover!
Flavors from Southern Spain
This dish celebrates the flavors of southern Spain. Dave and I spent some time in Granada in 2019 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 reinterpretation of Patatas Bravas, so clearly the food there really made an impression.
These green beans are an homage to 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 below for how to serve it cold and/or 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.
These beans are best when eaten right out of the skillet! I suggest going that route if possible, especially since they cook so quickly. But if you want to prep them ahead, 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 the beans and radicchio in a tightly sealed container in the fridge. When you're ready to serve, reheat in the microwave, then add the almonds and orange segments after reheating.
I think this would work great as a cold dish as well. That might be a fresh, summery spin on them!
Let's Talk Ingredients
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Green beans. I especially love hericots verts since they're so thin and delicate.
Olive oil for cooking. I love a big, bold olive oil here. Bonus points for Spanish!
Salt and pepper
Spanish brandy. Optional, but awesome if you have it. Other brandy will work fine too, or even white wine.
Navel oranges. You'll use the zest while you cook the beans, then garnish the dish with the segments.
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.
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.
Marcona almonds. These are the most divine, buttery Spanish almonds. Many stores have them in small containers near the artisan cheeses.
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.
How will you enjoy these beans? Will you serve them with your Thanksgiving meal? Or will you let the orange transport you to summer and serve them for a deck party? Maybe you'll have them cold, at a picnic?? There are so many ways to enjoy this dish, so tell me about how you had them in the comments below!
Oh, and go to southern Spain if you ever have the opportunity, it's amazing!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
Zest of a very large navel orange, or of two smaller oranges
Big handful of raisins
0.25 c tangerine juice
1 tbsp za'atar
Small, orange-sized head of radicchio
Big handful of marcona almonds
Segments of the orange(s) that you zested
Trim the ends from the green beans.
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.
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.
While the beans are cooking, cut the radicchio into ribbons and set it aside. Zest the orange(s) and cut out the segments.
Decrease the heat in the skillet to low and let it cool down for a minute. Deglaze with a splash of spanish brandy (or, if you'd rather not use brandy, just add a dash of water to help the beans steam).
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.
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.
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.
Transfer everything to a big serving platter. Spoon some of the raisins and orange zest over the top of the beans so they're easily visible. Add the marcona almonds and the orange segments, then serve immediately.