Healthy festive green bean bundles, served with try-colored tomatoes or peppers, are a holiday favorite.
No Green Bean Casseroles Here!
Festive holiday or family meals, in my home, are always influenced by my Mediterranean roots. I never knew what a casserole was until I got into food blogging.
’m weird, I know, but they just never made their way to my table and still don’t. Guess we all are drawn to the foods most familiar to us.
And so, I wanted to share with you my most favorite, easy to do, festively beautiful green bean bundles that are served on my Thanksgiving plate, but are as present throughout the garden rich days of summertime as well.
Green: The Pretty & Healthy Food
Nature has so many beautiful color palettes for us to use in cooking that I try to allow the colors to stand out rather than cover them up with gravies and sauces.
I think it’s why we are always attracted to the beauty of a salad. Green beans, when only slightly blanched and not boiled, retain the most vibrant green color, healthy crunch and flavor.
Actually, green beans have more flavor and nutrients when they are not over cooked. Ever sample a green bean slightly blanched and one right out of a can? Yep!
Festive Food Should Look Festive
What does festive mean to you when you think of creating food to serve to loved ones? The word festive to me, is splashes of color and sparkle in all the right places.
Once I blanched the green beans I was preparing for a special gathering, I just looked at them and thought, ‘now what’?
I knew once they were served on the plate, they would look much like my hair, ‘unruly and going in every direction’ so I decided to bundle them.
In my first attempt to bundle the unruly green beans, I used spring onions. In an open skillet, I brought a few inches of water to a boil.
Quickly laid the onions in for barely one second, pulled them out, quick tossed them into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking and tried tying them around a small bundle of green beans.
It worked, though the green onions were a bit wimpy. So next time I tried leeks. They were perfect, more sturdy to tie and I was able to cut thiner strips once they were blanched.
Festive? Yes! The green bean bundles looked like little presents with a ribbon tied around each one of them on the plate. I grated a little lemon zest on top before serving and was pleased.
Color On A Plate
The next time I made the green bean bundles, I had a bag of mini tricolored peppers in the fridge. I diced them into small pieces that began to look like confetti.
The yellow, orange and red pieces of sweet peppers were the perfect splash of color against the vibrant green of the green beans and leek ribbons.
With a little lemon, EVOO, a few slivers of shallots and some fresh herbs to marinate the peppers in, the flavor was elevated as well as the vibrant colors.
Green Beans Are Not Just A Side!
While a big ole fancy turkey or decadent Beef Wellington might me the dish chosen to serve for a festive gathering, some sides are needed to complete the plate.
Fondant potatoes, a buttery, herb crusted French technique of roasting russet potatoes, is usually the first fancy side dish I will make.
Once these green bean bundles with their vibrant pop of multicolored peppers are on the plate, they will quick grab your eye and never be thought of as a side dish again. Sorry potatoes!
Buying Green Beans
Not all green beans taste or look alike. Standard green beans, the green beans most available in grocery stores and bulk bins, are plumper, bigger and come in a mixed selection of lengths.
I have used the standard green beans for my bundles and they work just fine. They will, however, pack less into the bundle since they are large.
French green beans, also known as haricot vert, are smaller, thinner and more delicate to eat. French green beans are my preferred choice, when available, for the festive presentation of the green bean bundles.
Cooking Tips For Green Bean Bundles
While the green bean bundles can be prepared a day in advance and popped into the oven just long enough to warm them (since they will already be cooked), they do need a bit of TLC in prepping them.
The trick is not to over cook the leeks or the green beans. Blanch the green beans by dropping them in a skillet of salted boiling water, and as soon as the color begins to look more vibrant, use a slotted spoon to remove them quickly.
Place the blanched green beans into a large bowl of ice water. Cool those beauties down fast. Do exactly the same with the strips of leeks.
Tying The Bundles
About 6 – 8 blanched green beans make for the perfect bundle, depending on how thick they are. Lay the blanched leek on a flat surface, gather a bundle of green beans then carefully tie the leek into a knot. If you have trouble getting the leek to tie, simply remove a few green beans.
- Green beans or Haricot Vert
- Leeks – long and not yet trimmed
- Tricolored mini peppers or tricolored mini tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Fresh herbs – oregano, thyme or marjoram
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Large bowl
- Large pan with a lid
- Measuring spoons
- Citrus press
- Baking dish
Easy Festive Green Bean BundlesCourse: VegetablesCuisine: Mediterranean
Healthy colorful green beans, bundled in leek ties, blanched in lemon, herbs and EVOO, served with tricolored peppers.
Green Beans/ Haricot Vert – 12 oz. bag, trim ragged tips off
Leeks – 6 long leeks
Salt to taste
Tricolored peppers – 1/2 lb. confetti chopped
Shallot – 1 medium size, confetti chopped
Lemon – 1 large or 2 medium, juice and zest
Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
Fresh herbs – thyme and oregano
Salt/pepper to taste
- Have a large bowl with cold water and a handful of ice cubes in the water, ready. Prep the leek by cutting off the root end and tip, leaving the leek as long as possible. Take a sharp knife and make a cut through the leek, from top to bottom to open it. Pull out and separate about 10 leaves that are tender.
- In a large frying pan with a lid, boil water with a pinch of salt. Lay the leeks in, lid off, quickly move them around just a second or two to soften but not cook. Pull them out and drop them into the ice water bath. Once they feel cold, remove them to drain. Add more ice if needed.
- Drop the green beans into the boiling water and this time put the lid on. Watch them closely. As soon as they start to turn a vibrant green (about 5 minutes), remove them quickly and toss them into the ice water bath. Move them around until they feel cold. Remove and drain.
- On a flat surface, prepare 6 bundles of neatly stacked green beans. Slide one leek leaf under the bundle and tie it into a knot. Set each bundle into the baking dish you plan to warm them in. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the zest of a lemon. If not ready to use them, simply cover and pop in the fridge until you are ready.
- Prepping the peppers. In a medium container with a lid, place the confetti chopped peppers, shallots, salt and pepper to taste, the juice from one whole lemon, olive oil and fresh herbs. Put the lid on and give a shake. Store this in the fridge until ready.
- When ready. Heat oven to 350. Spoon the marinated peppers evenly over the green bean bundles, pour all the juice over the beans, cover and heat for about 10 minutes. Do not over cook. Serve.
- Notes: If peppers are not your thing, tricolored cherry tomatoes can be used in place of the peppers and are equally delightful.