Julia Sullivan, the opening chef at Haven’s Kitchen, taught me the trick to this recipe. One night, I was sautéing beans in my usual way and Julia said, “Save some of your minced garlic to throw in at the very end.” I did, and my usual way was forever altered. Finely minced raw garlic becomes creamy when melded with the steaming beans, and the raw flavor adds a spark to the finished dish.
You can substitute snap peas, asparagus, or blanched broccoli rabe for the beans. Or try long beans—ask your farmer for them or look for them at an Asian specialty grocer. Skinny and longer than green beans, they are worth hunting down.
Add enough oil to coat the pan, about 1 tablespoon. When the oil begins to shimmer, add half of the beans. Sauté, moving the beans around in the pan occasionally until tender, about 4 minutes. Add one-third of the garlic, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons of the water. Cook for another 30 seconds and transfer the beans to a serving bowl.
Repeat with the second batch.
To serve, toss the beans with the remaining raw garlic and the lemon zest and juice.