Here's the thing. I don't love green beans. They're fine, but if they didn't appear in my CSA or cross my path at Thanksgiving, I'd probably never touch the things. It's not that I actively dislike them, I'm just very "meh" on them. When they do show up in my CSA (hi SPRING), I usually end up throwing them in a pasta dish or a curry or covering them with cheese and pesto so they just taste like, well, cheese and pesto.
But this time I was determined to find a way to eat them that was a little bit more adventurous but still really easy. So I do what I always do when I'm looking for inspiration... ask myself WWDMD (what would Deborah Madison do). After looking over the green bean recipes in Vegetable Literacy, I discovered I kept almost all the ingredients for the last recipe on hand at all times (olives, onions, garlic...) so I was set. The recipe did not disappoint and it is now my go to for green beans. The strong flavors of the onion and olive balance out the blandness of the beans. It's a perfect lunch or light dinner and with all the different colors, it always looks delightful.
Madison's original recipe uses shallots in apple cider vinegar instead of red onions in red wine vinegar and tomatoes instead of almonds (but I wanted some crunch). I usually have red onions kicking about and I adore them, but I can't eat them raw without some considerable stomach upset, so I've started pickling them for salads. It's pretty simple and can be done anytime from 30 minutes to 1 week in advance. I simply slice the onions, put them in a bowl or jar, cover them with 50% red wine vinegar and 50% hot water, and add a pinch of sugar.
Put water on to boil and add a pinch of salt. Top and tail the green beans and put them on to boil. Roughly chop the olives and mince the garlic. Mix them together in a small bowl with a good splash of olive oil. Roughly chop the almonds.
Once the beans are cooked, remove from the heat and drain them. In a bowl mix the green beans with the olive/garlic/oil mixture.
To serve, place the beans in a bowl and scatter the almonds and red onions on top. If you don't care about presentation, just mix everything together and go at it.
small handful of olives
1 garlic clove
small handful of almonds
pickled red onions (see above)