Anything you can serve at room temperature is a gift when you’re taking on a big menu. These beans shine at room temperature and could be done a day in advance. They will hold at room temperature about 2 hours; after that, chill them.
A mince of lemon zest, garlic and parsley, gremolata is the traditional final tease of Milan’s osso buco. That same mix brings a double impact to green beans. I used to first boil the beans, then reheat them with the gremolata, until Mediterranean food authority Paula Wolfert pointed out how silken beans become when they’re left to cook slowly in a skillet. Best of all, it’s one less pan to wash.
Cook to Cook: You’ll need 2 large, shallow pans for the beans. Ideally they should be straight-sided sauté pans, but big slope-sided skillets work, too. Improvise lids with cookie sheets or foil.
Good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds green beans, stem ends trimmed
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1 cup water
5 large garlic cloves, crushed
1/3 cup water
Shredded zest of 2 large lemons (organic preferred; after all, you are eating the entire rind)
1 tight-packed cup Italian parsley leaves
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1-1/2 cups coarsely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Lightly film the bottom of 2 straight-sided 12-inch sauté pans with oil. Heat them over medium-high heat. Add the beans and generous sprinklings of salt and pepper, and sauté for 2 minutes, or until the beans begin to brown. Add 1/2 cup of water to each pan and immediately cover it. Turn the heat to medium-low. Cook the beans for 15 to 20 minutes, checking them often for burning and adding a little water if necessary. You want the beans very tender.
2. As the beans cook, make the gremolata. Put the garlic and 1/3 cup water in a coffee mug and microwave 1 minute, or simmer in a small saucepan to 1 to 2 minutes (this mellows the garlic just a little). Then, in a food processor, mince together the garlic (with its liquid), lemon zest, and parsley. Salt and pepper the mixture to taste.
3. When the beans are tender, uncover them, cook off any liquid in the pan, and turn them into a serving bowl. Toss the beans with the gremolata and the grated cheese.
Copyright © Lynne Rossetto Kasper, 2010
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