Friday, December 5, 2014

Caramelized Onion & Garlic Green Beans

Caramelized red onion and garlic add robust flavor to sweet, sauteed green beans. This dish comes together quickly and can be eaten as a side, or served with steamed white rice as a light meal. 

Carmelized Onion & Garlic Green Beans

Growing up I was an extremely picky eater. I have to admit that I am still a little guilty of being unreasonably picky. Vegetables were one of my biggest NO's as a child. I really didn't care what it was, I wouldn't eat it, simply because it was not bread or meat. Don't even get me started on peas. I have strong memories of gagging on them at the kitchen table. I never had to clean my plate, but my mom always encouraged a "no-thank-you" bite. I'd let my veggies sit until they were cold and icky, then choke down a bite. Uck.

Fortunately for my taste buds, I never grew out of my carb obsession. It's just a rather unfortunate obsession for my pants...

Green beans were literally the ONLY vegetable I would eat as a child. Canned green beans, to be accurate. And to this day, I still love my green beans. I just learned to outgrow the canned version, and appreciate the fresh ones. Give me green beans any way I can take them, in a casserole, sauteed, steamed, and I will love them.

This green bean recipe is literally a staple in our diet. I often whip it up to accompany whatever meat we are cooking that night. It pairs really well with nabobs. During the summer we take advantage of the abundant fresh produce and make meat & veggie kabobs, sweet corn on the cob and these Caramelized Onion and Garlic Green Beans.

Carmelized Onion & Garlic Green Beans

However, it's winter, and I'm still making these green beans. While good, fresh green beans may be hard to find, we also use the bag of fresh green beans that are ready to steam. They've been trimmed and clean, all you have to do is cook them. Yes, this is more expensive, and yes, they probably have some sort of treatment that keeps them bright green in a bag, but it's a last resort. Those are what I used for the photos below.

These are so flavorful, you might actually forget you're eating a vegetable. The caramelized onion adds this amazing tangy, sweet glaze that coats each green bean, the garlic adds a little kick, garlic salt and pepper accentuate each layer of flavor so that the tender beans literally melt in your mouth. One pan will disappear quickly. 

Carmelized Onion & Garlic Green BeansBefore I dive into the super-duper, crazy easy recipe, I want to say a few words regarding the ingredients. Olive oil: Is your friend. Don't cook these green beans with butter. It just won't taste the same. It might sound like it will add more flavor, but the butter will actually overpower the rest of the flavors in this recipe. I also like to show my pants some mercy, at least half the time. All the baked goodies I make are loaded with butter. Anytime I cook on the stove, I use olive oil. Honestly, we use Costco's brand, Kirkland, but if you are an olive oil connoisseur, you can use a higher grade, even flavored version in this recipe. Garlic: The one ingredient I use in, literally, almost all my dishes. I truly believe that the more garlic, the better. You can always add a little more or a little less than what I suggest, depending on your preference, but how can you not love garlic? I love it so much, that after cooking with it, I secretly enjoy the way my fingers smell for hours. Not so secret anymore. Slightly embarrassing. But at least now you will know why I'm sniffing my fingers, if you ever catch me in the act. Onion: If you rarely use red onion, I want to go ahead and warn you now, you will cry. Red onion is strong. If your onion is not fresh, you will be able to tell. When you cut into a red onion it should have lots of juices, odor, and whatever that devilish enzyme is that makes you cry. Synthase enzyme, I hate you. The true key to making these green beans so rich tasting is carmelizing the onions. I talk more about it in the recipe below. 

Carmelized Onion & Garlic Green Beans
Caramelized Onion & Garlic Green Beans

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (as a side dish)

1 medium-large red onion, thinly sliced
6 large cloves of garlic, roughly minced (do no use jarred minced garlic)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound fresh green beans, cleaned and trimmed OR 1 bag of frozen whole green beans
2 teaspoons garlic salt, divided
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper, divided
additional salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Step 1: To thinly slice my onion, I cut off the top and bottom of the onion, cut it in half, lay the flat, cut side down on the cutting board, and then begin to slice starting at the top end of the onion and work my way down. My trick for mincing garlic is to use a large chef's knife, lay the clove on its side, then use the side of your knife to carefully press and crush the garlic. I then slice off the bottom of the garlic and the peel comes right off with it; continue to roughly mince, large pieces are ok for this recipe.

Step 2: Place a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and let heat. Once your oil is hot, add all the onions to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to stir occasionally and let onion cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic, and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Lower your heat to medium and add the green beans. Stir to coat the green beans in the oil, onions and garlic. Add 1 teaspoon of garlic salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, then cover and let cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally, and use wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pan, loosening any browned bits of onion and garlic.

Step 3: As green beans begin to become tender, add remaining salt and pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes. Taste test a green bean for done-ness and flavor. If you prefer softer beans, cook longer. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Serve hot as a side dish, or serve of hot, steamed white rice as a meal.

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Carmelized Onion & Garlic Green Beans

Above is a shot of what your onions will start to look like as they carmelize. They will turn soft and begin to brown. Maximum flavor is achieved when they actually turn a caramel color. As they cook, the onion and garlic will begin to stick to the bottom of your pan. Don't worry, this is good. Use your spoon to scrape up those browned bits, they are nuggets of golden flavor. To avoid burning the onion and garlic, make sure you don't have your heat up too high.

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