How do we alter such wholesome foods into pure junk food? For example we turn green beans into green bean casserole usually containing: soggy canned beans void of all nutrition, cream of mushroom soup (an ingredient list a mile long usually including hydrogentated oils) and fried onions that tear up our arteries. Back in the day this used to be one of my favorites, until I started to really look what was in it. At culinary school my friend Karen introduced me to this easy, yet elegant and gorgeous green bean alternative and I was hooked! Everyone always oohs and ahhs at this dish… the vibrant green of the beans and the contrasting little red jewel-like pomegranate seeds lure you in. It’s always one of the first things to disappear at our Thanksgiving meal.
The secret to this recipe, besides all of the fantastic health-promoting ingredients, is the way the beans are cooked. The traditional method of cooking green beans is to boil them, or even worse… microwave them. This causes a loss of many of their health-promoting nutrients. In fact, overcooking or using the wrong method can destroy over 50% of the nutrients! Instead I steam them for just 5 minutes to keep them bright green, tender and maximize their nutrition. Now you all know that I’m all about quick and easy… the beauty of steaming the beans is that it is so much quicker than waiting 10-15 minutes for a whole pot of water to boil. Easier and healthier, a double bonus!
The pomegranates add a beautiful elegance to the dish, while also providing a sweet, slightly tart zing. Not to mention the fact that they are loaded with antioxidants that will help fend off those free radicals from our not so healthy choices, that cause wrinkles and pre-mature aging, among a host of other things. Walnuts are a true “brain food”, containing the highest amounts of omega 3’s of any other nut. The toasted walnuts provide a wonderful rich nutty crunch, so don’t skip this step! Shallots are more subtle in flavor than the onion and less pungent than garlic… and they don’t cause bad breath, woohoo!
Coconut vinegar, you might ask? It doesn’t taste like coconut at all. It tastes like a mild apple cider vinegar and it’s loaded with amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It is nutritionally superior to most other vinegars and promotes digestive health. It’s a pantry staple of mine and is wonderful to use in salad dressings.
So say goodbye to bland, soggy, army-green beans and wow your family and friends with this flavor packed, nutrient-rich side dish that will hopefully become a family favorite for you too!
Green Beans with Pomegranates & Toasted Walnuts
An elegant side dish fitting for a holiday feast. A mouthwatering trio of tender beans, sweet pomegranates and crunchy walnuts.
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 pomegranate, seeds only
- 1 1/2 pound green beans (haricots verts or traditional green beans) fresh is preferred, but frozen work great too.
- To toast walnuts, heat a saute pan over medium heat and add walnuts. Set timer for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes stir and watch until crisp and fragrant. This takes about 7 minutes total. Transfer to a bowl, so they do not continue to cook.
- Seed pomegranate, watch video to learn how.
- Rinse green beans. Take a small handful and align the ends by tapping them on the cutting board. Cut the tips off all at once and repeat to the opposite end. Do this until all beans are completed. Do not cut beans into pieces, this will make them mushy once cooked.
- Pour 2-3 inches of purified water into a pot with steamer. Once the water is at a rapid boil turn the heat to medium, add beans and cover. Steam 5-6 minutes until bright green and tender-crisp. Don’t overcook.
- In a 2 cup glass measuring cup or medium bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt, and pepper. Whisk until oil is incorporated well. Toss the beans with vinaigrette. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Just before serving, sprinkle the salad with pomegranate seeds and toasted walnuts.
This can be made the day before. It is wonderful served slightly warm or cold.
Phase 2 friendly
Whole Foods’ 365 brand dijon mustard is made with apple cider vinegar, making it Phase 1 friendly.
I haven’t tried using apple cider vinegar instead of the coconut vinegar yet, but since it has a stronger taste you might want to use a little less. Start with 1 tablespoon and add another if you need to at the end after tossing beans into the dressing.
This vinaigrette is versatile. Use it for a green salad, broccoli or any veggie of your choice.
Number of servings (yield): 8