I know this is almost downright un-American, but I have to confess that I am not at all a fan of Green Bean Casserole. That’s a bit of an understatement actually, but I hesitate to state my dislike in any stronger terms, lest I cause some real trouble among my friends here on the blog.
Some people have such affection for this dish, that to insult it in any way, is akin to making a disparaging comments about someone’s religious beliefs, or to insult their favorite politician. And, indeed, with it being connected so closely with our national holiday dedicated to
eating our thankfulness, for some, politics and religion may be a bit entangled in the whole matter.
Green Bean Casserole was not a tradition in my family, so I have no warm memories of Granny walking in the door with a big dish of the gloppy stuff. [Oops – slipped just a little there – sorry!] My Mom, like most Moms of her era, was no stranger to canned cream soups, but for some reason, this casserole never took hold for us. A gap in my American experience, and one that possibly hampers my ability to relate to lovers of GBC to this very day. Never fear though – you will soon forgive me.
Green Beans come in waves from the garden – we will have them every day for a week, skip a week, than get back to them, as the plants churn out their offerings. We don’t mind eating them multiple days in a row, because there are a lot of tasty ways to cook them up, so that we don’t get bored with the same old thing. We are, after all the same people who can eat zucchini every single day from June to October without batting an eye – we love our veggies!The only way in which these bean resemble that above-mentioned ubiquitous Thanksgiving staple, is that there are beans involved, along with a crunchy topping from the alium family. The resemblance stops there though – instead we have a tangy lemon-garlic dressing, and the indulgence of flash fried leeks. Super easy, fast and fresh!
The hardest part of this is probably deep frying the leeks, if you are not accustomed to it. You need to use a nice deep pan, so that the oil doesn’t bubble up too much when you add the leeks. I like to use a spider, like this one to lower the leeks into the oil, and then remove them safely. They only take a couple minutes to get deep brown and crunchy. If you can’t get any leeks, very thinly sliced onion strips will also work.
- 2 medium leeks
- 2 tablespoons flour [for gluten free option, use cornstarch]
- salt & pepper
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- oil for deep frying
- 1 pound of fresh green beans
- juice of ½ lemon
- pinch of kosher salt
- a few grind of black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon grated garlic from fresh clove
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Wash the beans and clip off the stem ends. Set aside.
- Bring a 3 quart pan half filled with water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to a boil.
- Place 2 cups of vegetable oil in a separate 3 quart pan, and set over a medium flame - you want this to get up to 350º
- Clean the leeks - cut off the root end and discard. You want to keep about 6 inches of each leek to use - cut off the upper part and discard, or save for making stock.
- Cut the leeks in half the long way, and then cut each half into long thin strips. Submerge the strips in cold water and swish around to remove any dirt. Put all of the leek strips on a clean kitchen towel, or paper towels and blot to dry. They can be damp, but should not have any drops of water remaining.
- Once the leeks are mostly dry, put the flour [or cornstarch], a pinch each of salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a gallon ziplock bag. Add the dry leeks and shake around to make sure all of leeks are coated in flour. Empty the bag into a mesh strainer, and shake over a large plate to ensure there is no excess flour.
- When the oil comes up to 350º, carefully add the leeks, [I pile them on a spider and lower them slowly in the oil.] and deep fry for about 1 and half to two minutes, until they are browned and crunchy. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon or a spider and let drain on a clean paper towel.
- When the water comes to a boil, add the green beans and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, until they are tender-crisp, but still bright green.
- Drain the water from the beans, and place them in serving bowl.
- Whisk together the lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper until salt is dissolved, then whisk in the oil.
- Drizzle the beans with the lemon garlic vinaigrette, and top with the fried leeks.
- Serve immediately.
You can actually fry up the leeks a few hours ahead of time – they will stay crunchy until dinner.
Delicious, and decidedly un-gloppy!
String beans are available in huge quantities at the Farmer’s Market right now, and they are generally a very good value. If you aren’t going to use them the day you buy them, blanch them. Prepare as the recipe states, but only leave in the boiling water for about 2 minutes, and then immediately submerge in ice water. Blot dry on a kitchen kitchen towel, and store in the fridge until you are ready to use them, at which point you can finish cooking them. The quality will be much better than if you keep them in the fridge raw.