Skip green bean casserole this year with a healthier option
Consider this green bean recipe a unique and refreshing alternative to the traditional green bean casserole for a holiday dish. Why? Well, this dish is fresher than canned green beans. It’s more creative than steamed green beans. And it’s lighter than a creamy casserole. In fact, I like to call it one of my ‘tried and trues’ for a holiday side that is always a crowd-pleaser!
How to make this Cilantro Pepper Green Beans Recipe: Step-by-Step
1. Gather a few simple ingredients
As simple as the ingredients are for this green beans recipe, the flavors are actually quite complex. The beans are dressed in a light and buttery garlic sauce and tossed with fragrant garlic, sweet bell pepper, and citrusy cilantro. It is the perfect side to the main dish, yet effortlessly stands out on its own. Here’s the full list:
- Fresh green beans
- Garlic cloves (about 5 of them)
- A large red bell pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Butter or margarine
- Chicken or vegetable stock
- Sea salt
- Ground black pepper
Don’t worry! Cooked cilantro doesn’t taste “soapy”
And guess what! For all of you cilantro haters out there, don’t worry. The flavor of cilantro actually changes when cooked, so there is no soapy essence in this dish. But if you despise cilantro for whatever reason, feel free to replace it with fresh basil.
Just slice the basil leaves into strips (i.e., julienne) and mix them into the beans at the end of the cooking process right before serving. It is powerful enough to stand out without taking over the flavor profile of the entire dish.
2. Prep the green beans
Back in the day (pre-baby), I used to spend my time snapping off the woody stems one at a time, by hand! Well, guess what? Those days are FAR behind me now. To save boatloads of time, simply line up the stems of about 5-6 beans against a large knife, then whack those babies off! Place the cut beans into a large bowl and get ready to blanch.
3. Blanch and shock the green beans to maintain their vibrancy and crispness
The blanching-shocking method is best applied when making large quantities of green beans because it ensures more even cooking without over-steaming (which leads to limp, dull-green beans).
Blanching involves cooking something in very hot water for a short period. Shocking involves putting the hot item into ice water to essentially stop the cooking process.
Although you may be tempted to skip the extra steps of blanching and shocking, please don’t. I have done so in the past, when making large quantities of green beans by just sauteeing them. However, they just don’t become tender as easily without turning a pale green color first.
The goal is to maintain that natural vibrant green color of the beans while keeping them crisp and tender at the same time. It’s an art really. Trust me, it’s worth the effort!
You may easily skip the blanching-shocking step if you are only preparing about 1-2 handfuls of beans. Do so by following Steps 1 and 4 (in the recipe card instructions), then cover the beans allowing them to steam until they are just crisp-tender. In this case, you may want to add the cilantro last as the residual heat will wilt it perfectly.
4. Saute and season them to perfection
Now for the fun part! Make the beans extra tasty and pretty by adding them to garlic and peppers sauteed in a little butter, oil, and stock. Sprinkle the beans with salt and cilantro and toss away!
The goal is to ensure that each and every green bean gets a little love by coating them evenly in the sauteed goodness, giving the cilantro something to stick to. Once the beans are warm, remove them from the heat and into a serving dish.
Make this veggie side dish the star of your next holiday dinner! It has always been a crowd-pleaser at my gatherings. Happy eating!
What to eat with this Cilantro Pepper Green Beans Recipe
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- 1 lb fresh green beans, washed
- 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 1 TB butter or margarine
- 5 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
- 2 TB chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 c cilantro
- Prep the beans. In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a rapid boil. Remove the woody stems of the green beans using a sharp knife. Just line up about 5-6 beans with the stems up against the knife, then slice them across. Or you can pinch them off when your fingers. Place the cut beans into a large bowl.
- Blanch the beans. Carefully dump beans into the boiling water and allow them to blanch for about 2-3 minutes. They should be a crisp-tender and vibrant green. While the beans are blanching, add water and 2 cups of ice to the same bowl used for the cut green beans.
- Shock and drain them. Using tongs or a spider, remove the beans from the boiling water to the bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking. Then, pour out the water from the pot and place it back on the stove at medium-low heat for the next cooking step. Lastly, dump the chilled beans into a colander and drain them thoroughly.
- Saute the beans. To the pot, add the oil, butter, and garlic. Saute the garlic for 1-2 minutes until light golden in color. Pour in the stock and allow to reduce by half. Add the bell pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes until the peppers are tender. Now, add the beans and the salt and pepper. Toss the beans to evenly coat each one in the seasoned liquid and to rewarm them. Sprinkle in the cilantro and toss again to evenly distribute. Serve and enjoy!
The blanching-shocking method is best applied when making large quantities of green beans because it ensures more even cooking without over-steaming (which leads to limp, dull-green beans). You may easily skip the blanching-shocking step if you are only preparing about 1-2 handfuls of beans. Do so by following Steps 1 and 4, then cover the beans to steam them until they are just crisp-tender. In this case, you may want to add the cilantro last as the residual heat will wilt it perfectly.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 83Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 415mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 3g
The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used. I am not a doctor, nor a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. Please consult your personal physician with any questions you may have regarding your own health and diet.