My parents used to always cook the hell out of string beans, and they still do to this day. When I first starting cooking haricot verts/string beans I knew I wanted them to be cooked with the slightest hint of crispness in order to taste the clean refreshing flavor that they have. I take great care in blanching these in boiling water, to ensure that they are on the cusp of being perfect. It takes a few times before you get the hang of it, but you basically have to keep test tasting them.
I like to let them cool off, then I add them to a spicy "angry" Arrabiata fresh tomato sauce that has reduced down to a nice consistency. Instead of plunging my tomatoes in boiling water, I like to give them a quick fire roasting over the stove, this ensures that you obtain some of that smoky flavor that the skin has from the flame. Once the dish is done I let it sit for an hour or so, and it intensifies in flavor. I personally think they're amazing when they've sat in the refrigerator over night.
This is easy to make, and makes for a great accompaniment to a dinner party. I remember bringing them to a BBQ one summer, and the whole platter disappeared in minutes. My parents still prefer their vegetables overcooked, but I can't argue with them, I can only make their recipes better with my own ambition. —James Durazzo
- Serves 3-4
French Haricot Verts (Leave the tail end on, and trim the other end, this gives a nice appearance)
Cloves of Garlic thinly sliced
Peperoncino (Red Pepper Flakes)
Vine Ripe Roma Tomatoes or Plum Tomatoes (Fire roasted or blanched with skin removed)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Torn Basil Leaves
- Start by singing the tomatoes over an open flame. You can use a wire rack or a toaster oven rack, make sure you remove the core of the tomato, and make an "X" slit on the bottom. Once they're roasted over medium flame, you'll see the skin blister and it will start to peel. Let them cool, remove some of the skin, seed them and dice them up into a small-medium dice.
- In a Large pot bring water to a boil, add enough salt so that you will impart seasoning into the beans while they blanch. Add the beans to the boiling water and keep a close eye on them. Keep testing for tenderness, make sure they still have crunch to them. Remove them from the water, and lay them out onto a baking sheet. Let them cool. I prefer this method instead of shocking them, it retains more flavor.
- Start the Arrabiata by adding the garlic, peperoncino, and Extra Virgin olive oil to a skillet on low flame. Let the garlic turn golden, bring it to the cusp of almost brown. Then immediately add the tomatoes, this will stop the garlic from browning. The goal is to cook some of the acidity and water out of the tomatoes. Taste for seasoning, add a pinch or two of Kosher salt. Cook for 5-7 minutes just until most of the water has cooked off.
- Once the haricot vert have cooled and the sauce is finished, combine the beans with the sauce and toss gently. Taste for seasoning, and you can also finish with fresh torn basil leaves. You can serve it immediately, but you will thank yourself by waiting at least an hour before digging into them.