Thursday, November 13

Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipe: String Beans with Prosciutto, Pine Nuts, and Meyer Lemon

Green beans with prosciutto, pinenuts, and Meyer lemon

Sometimes I wonder if I'm truly an American. I mean, I have never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread, I have never eaten at Taco Bell, and despite its nearly iconic status in American cuisine, I cannot abide green bean casserole. You know the one -- green beans with cream of mushroom soup, topped with crispy fried onions.

Growing up, I never knew what a casserole was; my mom (and grandmother) never made them. After hearing about green bean casserole from friends at school, I felt like I was missing out -- I told my mom, "It has fried onions on top! It's like green beans with Funyuns!" The next day she bought the ingredients for green bean casserole; I couldn't have been happier.

Unfortunately, she made the green bean casserole in front of my grandmother, Nan. I still remember her look of shock when my mom opened the can of fried onions. "Onions in a can? Who ever heard of such a thing? And who puts soup on string beans?" she said, "Bah, that's American food." I reminded her, "Nan, we are American." "Yeah," she replied, "but we cook Italian."

Despite Nan's protests, I got my green bean casserole. I was giddy with anticipation. Unfortunately, with the first bite, my giddiness ended. Green bean casserole was nothing more than mushy green beans topped with salty soup and greasy onions.

I declared, "I don't like it." Though she didn't say a word, I could see the smile of satisfaction on Nan's face.

extra virgin olive oil, proscuitto, Meyer lemons, and pinenuts

If Nan could still make green beans, this would be her style: Prosciutto, Pine Nuts, and Meyer Lemon. I made this side dish last Thanksgiving, and it was such a hit that there were no left-overs. It's no wonder. The combination of salty prosciutto, earthy pine nuts, and tangy Meyer lemons enlivens the string beans.

Although you could add the prosciutto raw to the string beans, cooking it for 30-60 seconds renders it irresistibly crisp and savory, like bacon, but much better. It's an easy way to dress up otherwise humble string beans and will surely please your guests. I'd keep the string beans al dente; they'll remain brilliantly colorful and will have that satisfying snap when you bite into them.

I'm not even gonna get into what Nan thought about sweet potatoes and marshmallows.

Green beans with proscuitto, pinenuts, and Meyer lemon

Green Beans with Prosciutto, Pine Nuts, and Meyer Lemon

Serves 4
Print recipe only here.

1 pound string beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips*
the zest of ½ Meyer lemon (about 2 teaspoons)**
the juice of ½ Meyer lemon (1 ½-2 teaspoons)
coarse sea salt, to taste
7-8 cranks freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

In a deep pot, boil the string beans for 2 minutes. Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking and maintain their color. After about 2 minutes, drain and pat dry.

Place pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat. Shake pan in a back-and-forth motion until pine nuts are golden and aromatic, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside.

In a large skillet, warm 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add prosciutto strips; cook for 30-60 seconds, or until just crisp. Add the string beans to the skillet and stir well. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt and pepper; stir and heat through, 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and additional lemon zest, and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

*You can substitute pancetta or bacon for the prosciutto, if you prefer.
**Meyer lemons, which are available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, are sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons, but either works well.

You might also like these other Thanksgiving side dishes:

Roasted Acorn Squash with Honey-Lime Glazed Pepitas

Olive Oil, Caramelized Onion, and Sage Sweet Potatoes

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Anonymous said...

I love flavourful salads with contrasts in textures. I'm definitely gonna come up with a kosher version of this :D

Elle said...

Never did like that green bean casserole either. Fortunately my Dad grew up with farm fresh produce, so we ate fresh veggies and no canned soup on 'em....but the beans were cooked with salt pork until almost gray. I like your version a whole lot better :) Let's all FORGET about sweet potatoes with marshmallows, OK? It's a crime to do that to yummy sweet potatoes! Your Nan and I would have gotten along just fine.

Stacey Snacks said...

My green bean side for turkey day is green beans w/ shallots and walnuts all done in the pan. Wonderful.

There is my favorite FRANTOIA olive oil! It's like fine wine!

Jersey Girl Cooks said...

I love this! I am cracking up right now because I never grew up with casseroles either. I heard the same thing...that is American food (just like bottled salad dressings and jarred sauce was too.) My Italian roomate and I in college would raid the salad bar for bottled dressing because it was a novelty to us!

Proud Italian Cook said...

This is the way to eat fresh beans!
A perfect side for Thanksgiving. Your Mom and Nan knew what they were talking about!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

i love these kind of dishes. the beans are fresh and crispy and with the addition of the crunchy nuts there is an added flavor dimension. i also love the tangy lemon flavor. susan you rock!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A refined dish! That's a delicious combo!



Manggy said...

Gasp!!! No PB&J on white bread? No Taco Bell?! ;) Oh well, I've never had green bean casserole before. Forgive me for saying so, but I think I might still try it. There's still hope! As long as the beans are al dente :)

That Nan, I love that she enjoyed your culinary suffering, lol. She would, however, be so proud of this dish. It looks so fresh and delicious!

I haven't tried sweet potatoes and marshmallows, but I might never. It sounds vile.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I have to defend the classic green bean casserole. It's a tradition all its own. I don't think we should divide into red and blue culinary states over this. There is a place for all types of food on the Thanksgiving table. :-)

Anonymous said...

This has the look of an instant classic. That vibrant green of the beans is so inviting.

Anonymous said...

You've created an updated classic!

A few years back, my mother in law and I were somehow seduced by all of those "classic" green bean casserole pictures and stories and figured we must somehow be missing out on something BIG. Needless to say, we made the dish and quickly remembered why neither of us had made it for years and years. Yuck!

NĂºria said...

A delicious combo Susan! And I like the way you cook a lot! It's kind of similar to Spanish cooking :D.

However, I would steam my beans in this case. But al dente ones look fantabulous too :D.

Maggie said...

LOVE meyer lemons—I bet this is great!

Patsyk said...

That's my kind of green beans! Definitely need to crisp up the proscuitto though!

I have to agree on the green bean casserole... yuck!

Terry at Blue Kitchen said...

I'm right there with you on the green bean casserole, Susan. And with Elle on the sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Actually, I'm pretty much opposed to any recipe that involves either cream of mushroom soup or miniature marshmallows. But Taco Bell, Susan? On the rare occasions fast food is called for, they're one of my go tos!

sra said...

I don't/didn't eat much of what's traditional/iconic either. But once in a while when it's in season, or when I feel I've gone too long without reacquainting myself with it, I have a bit of it, just to find out what exactly I'm missing out on and reassure myself ok, this is why you don't like this.

Nic said...

Lovely flavours, especially the lemon.

The Food Hunter said...

I nver eaten green bean casserole or Taco Bell either. This sounds delicious. I plan to give it a try.

Deborah said...

I think this looks way better than green bean casserole!!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

trini-That's wonderful!

elle-Eewww... gray beans. Yup, my Nan would have liked you. :)

stacey- Oh,that sounds perfect. Don't you love that olive oil?

lisa-That is so funny!

marie-They'd be happy to hear it!

meeta-I just love that snap.


mark-You've had Taco Bell and I haven't? See what I mean? :)

tw-I'm all for bipartisan Thanksgivings. :)

julie-Thank you! It has become a favorite of our family.

louise-Hah! That is too funny.

nuria-Is it really? I'm a true novice when it comes to Spanish cuisine. I'd love to learn more though.

maggie-Me too. Thanks!

patsyk-Can't go wrong with the proscuitto, huh? :)

terry-If you say it's good, then it must be.

sra-Isn't that funny how we have foods that we try every year in the hope that we'll like it but never do?

nic-I love the tang it adds.

fh-Great! I'm so happy to hear it.

deborah-Thanks, my dear!

Karen said...

Oh, my. Just the thought of that green bean casserole makes my tummy turn. I'm roasting green beans for TG - yours looks delish... love the idea of the proscuitto in there!

RecipeGirl said...

This looks like a goody (but not just for Thanksgiving!) I love a little prosciutto in my green beans :)

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

LOL @ green bean casserole story! I much prefer these green beans with all of their Italian influenced ingredients Susan! Beautiful.

Annie said...

Your Nan sounds like my mother! She also never cooked casseroles and can't even stand the sight of "Candied Sweet Potatoes"! Hahhaha, the trill of growing up with Italian Mama's and Nonna's!

Debbie said...

That looks delicious. The green beans look so fresh. My grandmother would have never made a green bean casserole either!!!

Dani Spies said...

This is SO going on my Thanksgiving Day menu... looks amazing!!

Bunny Trails said...

Meyer lemons just make me smile! This looks yummy. As always, wonderful recipe!

Dwiana P said...

I did eat peanut butter and jelly but not really like it.
The green beans look so healthy and yummy too.

The Italian Dish said...

I'm not waiting for Thanksgiving to make these. I bought some beautiful green beans today and I'm making this for dinner tomorrow night! Thanks!

zakkalife said...

Prosciutto with green beans sound delicious. Actually just about anything with prosciutto sounds good. :)

whitneyingram said...

Beautiful. The colors are lovely. Almost too vibrant to be fall food.

Love the twist on yucky green bean casserole. Oh, I feel like such a food snob :)

Ivy said...

Susan, you are such a great Cook. You made us all wishing to have a plate of green beans to eat.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Nan ;)

Half Baked said...

Hi Susan, Your Nan's green beans look waaayy better than green bean casserole! I hate cream of mushroom soup...salty and awful!

grace said...

although i ate more than my fair share of pb&js growing up and have "feasted" at taco bell more than i care to recall, i have never eaten green bean casserole. frankly, i'm pretty proud of that! your dish is clearly superior. :)

Lori Lynn said...

Now that Thanksgiving side dish looks so fresh and lovely. Great combination of flavors!

Simona Carini said...

Thanks Susan for making me laugh. I can picture Nan's face during the proceedings. I love her answer: how Italian! We can agree on marshmallows, but not on sweet potatoes. Lovely recipe, as usual.

Rachelle S said...

This dish sounds delish! Much better than that green bean casserole. blech. I have to say that living in SD, why would you eat at Taco Bell? There are so many great taco shops in San Diego! I cringe when others in my family ask for it, even though it was my 1st job.

Anonymous said...

I have had many casseroles (along with Taco Bell and PP&J), I have never had the iconic green bean casserole. I think I'd like your version much better.

We Are Not Martha said...

Also known as the best green beans ever??? These sound amazing. Then again, I love anything that involves prosciutto. And I already love green beans plain anyway!


Peabody said...

Now that's the way to eat green beans...looks devine.

Anonymous said...

I can deal with green bean casserole once a year -- at Thanksgiving. The other 364 days, I'd prefer this dish!

Dragon said...

What a great combination of flavours and I love the photo. Great job!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

How wonderful. Yuo have one of my favorite vegetables with two of my favorite ingredients - pine nuts and prosciutto! What a great side dish.

Darius T. Williams said...

I must say - those are some good looking green beans!


Susan from Food Blogga said...

karen-Thanks. I love roasted string beans too.

lori- A little prosciutto makes them taste a lotta good. ;)

peter-Glad you enjoyed it.

annie-Absolutely! You gotta love them. :)

debbie-They are fresh. They were purchased that morning at the farmers' market!

dani-Really? Awesome!

bunny-Me too!

dwiana-Someone else who doesn't like pb&j? Whew. I feel better now. ;)

italiandish-Yay! I hope you enjoy them!

kawaii-I agree. :)

rc-I won't tell anyone. ;)

ivy-That's a sweet thing to say.

maryann-Why am I not surprised? :)

halfbaked-Glad I'm not the only one.

grace-2 out of 3 ain't bad. ;)

lori lynn-Thanks so much!

simona-She was a hoot.

rachelle-That's true. We're lucky like that.

mrsl-I'm really surprised at how many other people haven't tasted it yet.

wanm-Best ever? You get a gold star for that comment. ;)

peabody-Why, thank you!

anonymous-Wow! Thanks a bunch!

dragon-I appreciate that.

sdoc-I adore pine nuts too.


Jeanne said...

OK can I please shed a tear now - look at that absolutely gloriously beautiful natural LIGHT you have in the prosciutto pic - sob!!! I don't think we EVER have that here in London, but it reminds me terribly of home. Sigh. Gotta get me to California.

Beans and some sort of cured pork are one of those all-time classic combos - and this looks particularly divine!