Haricots verts: A side dish worth the effort

Haricots verts
Haricots verts (Jessica Grann)

By Jessica Grann

This traditional French recipe is truly one of the most complimented side dishes that I cook. The lemony shallot sauce goes with everything — fish, chicken, beef and lamb.

The beans taste wonderful warm, room temperature and even the following day after a night in the fridge.

I often prepare this recipe when I’m making a meal for a loved one, and it’s an easy dish to bring along to a barbecue. I love that I don’t have to worry about it spoiling because the recipe is vegan.

You can use thinner French beans or regular trimmed green beans; the cooking time will vary slightly depending on the type of bean.

Haricots verts

Serves 4-6

1 pound green beans, traditional or French beans, washed and trimmed

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 large lemon, zest and juice

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

Sea salt: 1 teaspoon in cooking water, ½ teaspoon in shallot mixture

¾ teaspoon black pepper

Wash and trim the fresh beans.

Prepare an ice bath for the beans — simply fill a large bowl with cold water and add in a handful or two of ice cubes.

Bring a large half-filled pot of water to boil.

When the water is boiling rapidly, add 1 teaspoon of sea salt before adding the beans all at once. The water will take a few minutes to come to a boil again.

Cook the beans so that they are cooked but remain firm and bright in color. With thinner French beans, I start to check them at about 6 minutes of cooking time. The larger green beans need a little more time, so start to check them for texture and color at about 8 minutes. You want to get them to the point where they are not raw but also not turning to the darker green tone of canned beans. I check them once per minute by tasting them — think al dente pasta in texture.

When ready, immediately strain them and place them into the ice bath.

Meanwhile, finely chop the shallots.

Place a saute pan over medium low heat and add the olive oil.

Allow the oil to heat for a minute before adding the shallots.

Stay close to the stove at this point because the shallots need regular stirring. It usually takes 8-10 minutes for them to brown nicely, and it’s worth the extra few minutes of cooking time to get the color to change from translucent to caramelized.

Zest an entire lemon before juicing it.

Stir in the fresh parsley, salt and pepper.

Cook for a minute before adding in the lemon zest, continually stirring for about 25 seconds, until fragrant.

Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Strain the beans from the ice bath and place them into the pot with the shallot mixture.

Toss with tongs until the beans are evenly coated in oil. I taste test at this point — if I think that it needs a little more zing, I add another tablespoon of lemon juice or a little more sea salt.

This recipe takes about 25 minutes in total and it’s an easy recipe to prepare while you’re cooking your main dish.

You can cover the beans and warm them, or serve at room temperature.

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh. This originally ran in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.

Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here