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Fresh Green Beans with Almonds and Blue Cheese

At our house, we eat fresh green beans at least once a week. We love them plain, with sliced almonds, with bacon, with ham, mushrooms, or anything else I might come up with on the spur of the moment. The secret to this recipe is to blanch the beans before sautéing. The result is a green bean full of flavor, texture, and with a gorgeous bright color.

Serves 4

1 pound small green beans (about the diameter of a #2 pencil) with the ends removed
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt*
4 tablespoons slivered almonds
4 tablespoons blue cheese (or feta cheese), crumbled

Fill a 2 quart sauce about 2/3 full of water, add a big pinch of sea salt, and bring to a vigorous boil over high heat. Add the green beans to the boiling water and boil until just tender. Time varies, depending upon size of beans.

Meanwhile, put 2 trays of ice in a large bowl (about 2 quarts) and add cold water to fill about 2/3 full. Add a big pinch of sea salt to the ice water. The second the green beans are tender, use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer the cooked beans from the hot water into the ice bath. This ice bath shocks the beans and immediately stops the cooking process. Let the beans sit in the ice bath until the beans are cold. Transfer the cold beans to a towel to dry.**

Combine the oil and butter in a heavy skillet and cook, until the butter melts, over medium heat. Add the minced shallot and sauté until translucent. Add the blanched green beans and sauté until heated through. Remove from heat and add the almonds and blue cheese. Serve hot.

Cook's Notes

*You can omit the sea salt if you wish.

** You can blanch beans several hours or even a day ahead of time - just put them in a baggie and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.

Blanching is a great time saver, especially for holiday or family dinners. When you are ready to continue cooking this dish, simply remove the blanched beans from the refrigerator and continue with the cooking process.

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