Turkey always gets top billing when we’re talking Thanksgiving, but let’s get real for a minute and call the Thanksgiving feast what it really is: a carb orgy. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, pies… the list goes on. Nobody’s really looking forward to the vegetables. If anything, they are kind of a necessary evil. Often, they are delegated to some kind guest who thoughtfully asks the hostess “what can I bring?”
With so much energy being devoted to those magnificent carbs, veggies are often an afterthought. “Oh, I guess we should have something green…” Green beans are usually something that everyone can get on board with, unlike the controversial brussels sprouts or kale. We’ve all enjoyed the green bean casserole, in all it’s cream-sauce-fried-onion glory, but I argue that it kinda defeats the whole purpose of putting something green on the table: to provide a lighter contrast to all the richness.
This recipe is perfect for so many reasons. The vinaigrette is a wonderful surprise. The flavors are bright and intense, and the dried fruit and toasty walnuts help keep that seasonal vibe. If you are hosting, it’s great because you can do it ahead. If you are that thoughtful guest bringing the veggie dish, it’s equally great because you don’t have to burden your host’s already overworked oven or stovetop to reheat it. It’s perfectly delicious at room temperature!
I’ve prepared this side dish on many occasions, modifying it only slightly from the way it originally appeared in Bon Appetit’s November 2010 issue. This version will serve 12-15, and the addition of a touch more vinegar gives it a zippier flavor.
Green Beans with Toasted Walnuts and Dried Cherry Vinaigrette
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/3 sherry wine vinegar
1/2 cup minced shallots
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup tart dried cherries
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 pounds trimmed slender green beans
Toast and chop the walnuts. This can be done several days ahead, and they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Place the sherry wine vinegar, minced shallots, salt, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle the olive oil in while whisking vigorously. Add in the dried cherries. This can be done a day or so ahead, and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Boil the green beans in salted water for three minutes. While they are doing their thing, fill a big bowl with ice water and set a colander down into it. Once the beans are tender-crisp, drain them and shock them in the ice water. This stops the cooking process and locks in the brilliant color.
This can be done a day ahead, just drain them once they are cooled, wrap them in paper towels, and seal them in a baggie until ready to serve.
On the day of, place the green beans in a pretty serving dish and spoon the vinaigrette over.
The shallots have mellowed out, sweetened, and become almost pickled in the dressing. The tart cherries are plumped and juicy and give a wonderful sweet and chewy contrast.
Sprinkle the toasted walnuts on for crunch.
And top with chopped mint for a fresh, herbal note.
This is a veggie dish that can stand up to all those delicious carbs! I’m just as excited to eat these green beans at a holiday dinner as all that stuffing, potato, and pie…
What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year? Are you a host or a guest? Have you been asked to bring a dish? Did you get stuck with the green veggie? Let me know what you think of this recipe!
And have a very happy Thanksgiving holiday from YinMom YangMom! xoxo