We apologize if you are a huge fan of green beans. We apologize if you are the sort of person who longs for the green beans at Thanksgiving. We think it's a little strange, but we still apologize.
It's not that green beans aren't perfectly delightful. It's just that with so many far more exciting sides on offer at the typical Thanksgiving feast, it's really hard to get excited about green beans. Usually, we don't even bother to put them on our plates. So why do so many people serve them? It's probably some combination of tradition (Aunt Susie always serves them!) and guilt (as if eating three green beans atones for your 1,500-calorie gravy-fueled sins...).
Would it be easier to just leave them off this year's menu? Yup. Will you? Probably not. So we decided that if you really must clutter up the table with green beans, at least make them truly delicious. Not that you need to work hard to make that happen. In fact, we came up with five delicious and easy ways to dress your green beans. They're so good we might even eat less mashed potatoes to leave room for them. Or not.
GREEN BEANS FIVE WAYS
Start to finish: 10 minutes
2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
In a large skillet over medium-high, combine the green beans and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until just tender and bright green. Drain any water that has not evaporated and stir in the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Continue the recipe using one of the following variations:
Nutrition information per serving: 80 calories; 35 calories from fat (44 percent of total calories); 4 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 170 mg sodium; 11 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 3 g protein.
Stir in 2 tablespoons each of chopped fresh thyme, chives and parsley.
In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, a pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika. Cook until toasted and fragrant, stirring constantly, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle over the cooked and seasoned green beans.
SPICY GARLIC HONEY
Stir in a hefty pinch of red pepper flakes, 1 to 2 finely minced cloves of garlic and a drizzle of honey.
Finely chop 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds. Sprinkle over the top of the cooked and seasoned green beans.
Leave off the salt and instead drizzle with a little soy sauce and maple syrup.