My earliest "cooking" memory is snapping the ends off string beans for my mother. We had one of those cutting boards that pulls out from just under the countertop and she'd place the beans on the board and I'd peek over the board and pinch, snap, or rip off the tails and stems of the beans. I enjoyed the job well enough that I didn't mind eating the vegetable when it was cooked.
I still like green beans, but they do get a little bland if you have them too frequently. I started this dish as a simple green beans with almonds, but my tinkering instinct led me to spice up the almonds which makes this a much more interesting side dish. It went well as a side with pasta in tomato sauce but I think it would go nicely with a pepper crusted steak, a savory chicken dish, or a nice piece of poached salmon.
If you don't like green beans (what?!), you can try just the almonds, but be careful, the oil on them is very hot and conducts heat very well when you first take the nuts out of the pan.
Green Beans with Spiced Almonds
1 pound fresh green beans
4 oz. slivered almonds
2 teaspoons nut oil (hazlenut, walnut, almond, but not peanut oil, which is too strong)
3/4 teaspoon tumeric
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon powdered red pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Snap the ends off the green beans or have a helper do it for you. This is a great cooking job for kids since no knives are needed and you're going to wash the beans afterwards anyway.
Wash the beans, then steam them for 5-10 minutes until they reach the desired softness. I like mine with a bit of crispness left in them, but mostly soft.
While steaming the green beans, place the almonds in a skillet on medium heat. Warm them thoroughly. Add the nut oil and stir.
When the almonds are coated, add the spices and salt and stir together well. Taste an almond and adjust seasonings to taste. You can add pepper if you wish, but fiddling with the tumeric, cumin, and chili powder will produce better results. Watch your heat - you don't want to burn the almonds or smoke the oil.
Once the almonds are toasted and coated, continue to heat until you start to see a whitish foam from the oil, about 45 seconds more. Take the nuts off the heat and get them out of the skillet into a large bowl so they can cool a bit and stop cooking.
When the green beans are done, add them to the bowl with the nuts and toss together. Drizzle olive oil over the beans and serve immediately.