Many of us grew up thinking that green beans came from a can. Those soft and water-logged beans were all we knew until we had our eyes were opened up to the true flavor of string beans (the name covers haricot verts, wax beans and green beans) that were fresh and properly cooked. But the problem is how to cook them differently. While steaming in a pan or boiling in salted water work well, it can get a little monotonous. So this time, try grilling. The dry heat evaporates the water inside the beans and concentrates the flavor while also picking up char from the flame. I use a perforated grill pan to cook my beans on the grill, but a grill basket with smaller opening works well also (in a pinch you could use your oven on broil and a cookie sheet). The key to this dish is tossing the still-sizzling string beans and scapes into the vinaigrette, which cooks the rawness out of the garlic and shallots. Garlic scapes are available at farmers' markets as well and are the curly stalks that shoot out of the tops of garlic bulbs. They are slightly garlicky and fantastic when mixed with string beans. If you cannot find scapes, substitute an equal amount of beans for them.
Grilled string beans and garlic scapes in miso vinaigrette
Makes: 4 servings
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 medium clove garlic, micro-planed
1 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon brown miso paste
1/2 teaspoond sugar
6 tablespoons canola oil (divided use)
1 pound green beans/wax beans, stem ends removed
8 ounces garlic scrapes, cut into 2-to-3-inch pieces, woody bottom parts removed
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, crushed
Juice from 1/2 lemon (approx 1 tablespoon)
In a metal or glass bowl, whisk the first seven ingredients and let them sit for 30 minutes (you should cut your beans while you wait). Whisk in 4 tablespoons of oil (pour slowly) until a smooth emulsion has formed and set aside. Toss the beans and the scapes in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and grill until a little charred and cooked through, but still crunchy. While sizzling hot, toss the beans and scapes with the vinaigrette in a large bowl. Let mixture cool for 15 minutes. Toss with hazelnuts and lemon juice and serve.
Tip: With the leftover miso paste, you can mix it in scrambled eggs, mix with butter to put on fish or toast. And of course, you should make miso soup.