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Move over, main dish, and make room for these green beans

The green beans in this dish aren’t blanched. They’re microwaved then sauteed.

Associated Press

The green beans in this dish aren’t blanched. They’re microwaved then sauteed.

Like millions of you, I am a home cook. I get dinner on the table for my family day after day. I plan the main dish and the sides.

And if you're anything like me, your default is to spend your creative energy on the protein or main dish. The sides? Afterthoughts. A steamed this or roasted that. Whatever.

But what if we spent more of that energy on trying new and more interesting vegetable recipes and let the protein be the simple (side) dish on the table? I'm a firm believer that one of the best ways to become a healthy eater is to make vegetables in a million different ways, thereby making them more interesting and appealing.

One of my favorite ways to mix things up and make my vegetables more interesting is to parcook (partly cook) them, then saute them in a small amount of aromatic fat. Traditionally, this calls for blanching the vegetables — boiling them briefly, then plunging them into an ice bath — then sauteing them.

However, my weeknight hack is even simpler. I briefly steam the vegetables in a covered dish in the microwave, then uncover them, drain them and pop them into a skillet.

I showcase this technique in today's recipe. I microwave green beans, then saute them in a little olive oil flavored with garlic, red pepper flakes and anchovies. Anchovies add saltiness and savory umami to your veggies. For a vegetarian version, you could use miso paste or soy sauce. Either way, expanding your veggie repertoire and letting the meat take second seat will help you break out of your dinner rut in a healthy way.

Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget and the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."



1 pound French green beans, trimmed

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 anchovy fillets, minced and pressed almost into a paste (or 1 tablespoon anchovy paste)

Pinch red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet until golden

3 tablespoons grated or finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Ground black pepper

In a microwave-safe dish with a cover, combine the green beans with ¼ cup water. Cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Let sit for 1 minute, covered, to steam, then uncover and drain the water.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium, heat the oil. Add the garlic, anchovies and red pepper flakes and cook until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the drained green beans and toss to coat well. (Be careful, as they may splatter a bit from the residual water on the beans.) Cook for 3 minutes, then add the vinegar and pine nuts, then toss again. Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with Parmesan, parsley and pepper.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 90 calories (60 calories from fat, 67 percent of total calories), 6g fat (1g saturated, 0g trans fats), 5mg cholesterol, 150mg sodium, 7g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 3g sugar, 4g protein.

Move over, main dish, and make room for these green beans 03/17/16 [Last modified: Thursday, March 17, 2016 3:25pm]
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