Boiling and then sautéing vegetables gives you more control over doneness.
Fresh green beans should be crisp and smooth, with few brown spots. Try breaking one in half; if it doesn't snap, forget it. (They're not called snap beans for nothing.)
Some lingo: Boiling vegetables until they're partially done is known as parboiling, and plunging them right into ice water to stop the cooking is called shocking. The parboil?and?shock method is perfect whenever you want to make sure vegetables stay crisp and vibrant. It's also great for entertaining, since you can do some of the work way ahead and finish right before serving.
Other vegetables that work well with this treatment: asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, snow and snap peas, any leafy greens, and turnips. Drain them well and keep them refrigerated until you're ready to use them, or use them right away sautéed in butter or olive oil (as with this recipe), in stir?fries, in salads, or as crudités with dip.
Don't have any shallots? Use a medium red onion. —Mark Bittman
Bring a stockpot of water to a boil and salt it. Fill a large bowl with cold water and lots of ice cubes and keep a colander handy. To trim the beans, snap or cut off the stem end and any brown spots. Cut them into 2?inch pieces or leave them whole.
Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until they just start to get tender but remain quite crunchy, 3 to 5 minutes depending on the size of the beans. Drain the beans and immediately plunge them into the ice water. Let them sit for a minute to cool thoroughly, then drain them. (You can prepare the beans up to a day before finishing the dish; cover well and refrigerate.)
Put the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium?high heat. When the butter melts, add the shallots and cook, stirring once or twice, until they're golden brown and crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the shallots to a plate lined with paper towels. Leave the fat in the pan.
Add the green beans to the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are crisp?tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve hot or warm with the shallots on top and almonds sprinkled over if you're using them.
My books include the bestselling How to Cook Everything and Vegan Before 6 P.M. (VB6), where I provide all the necessary tools for making the switch to a Flexitarian diet with lists for stocking the pantry, strategies for eating away from home in a variety of situations, pointers for making cooking on a daily basis both convenient and enjoyable, and a complete 28-day eating plan showing VB6 in action.