Our first Thanksgiving in Alaska, I distinctly remember not being able to find a single fresh green bean in the supermarket in the two weeks leading up to the holiday. I was sad. Partly because I love fresh green beans and I don’t recall ever having had a Thanksgiving that didn’t have some sort of green beans on my plate. But also because I thought that this was a foretelling of what Alaskan winter would be like in the produce section of the supermarket – empty shelves and hollow crates? Was I destined for canned goods until the snow melts in April? The thought came as a real shock to my California-raised system. But, it must have been some sort of a fluke, some sort of a random green bean shortage, because this year I was able to snatch up a nice big bag of fresh green beans the second week in November… and boy was I thankful!
Truth be told, I actually don’t mind traditional green bean casserole made from canned goods (and if we were having another green bean shortage, I might even be making some). I’m not knocking it. But, you all probably already know how to make that. And, it’s not exactly from scratch. So, for those of you who are hoping to try something new in the way of green beans this Thanksgiving, I have a fantastically bright and fresh option for you.
Have you ever toasted Panko crumbs in butter? My oh my they are something special. Like tiny little garlic butter croutons, crispy and flavorful. Then, I added fresh lemon zest which brightens the whole thing up. Sprinkle the toasted Panko on top of crisp-tender green beans and toasted almonds and you’re all set.
Adapted from The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan
1-1/2lbs fresh green beans, stem ends trimmed
4T butter, divided
3/4c Panko crumbs
1 clove garlic, minced
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2t fresh lemon zest
1/3c slivered almonds
2t freshly squeezed lemon juice
Fill a large pot about halfway with water and salt generously. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the beans and cook 3-5 minutes until bright green and just beginning to become tender, but still crisp. Drain the beans and rinse thoroughly with very cold water to stop cooking (or plunge into an ice water bath).
In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the Panko and toast, stirring constantly. When the Panko begins to get some color, add the garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Continue stirring, another minute or so until the Panko is golden brown and the garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat and add the lemon zest, stirring to toss. Remove the Panko mixture to a plate and set aside.
Return the pan to the stove and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. When melted, add the almonds. Toast, stirring, about two minutes. Add the green beans and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until green beans are crisp-tender (or cooked to your preference). When done, remove from heat and add the fresh lemon juice. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the Panko crumb mixture. Serve promptly.