I used to have a conflicted relationship with green beans. During holidays, when they were slathered in some variation of cream of mushroom soup and topped with buttery crisp-fried onions, I loved them. At the good Southern meat-and-three restaurants of my childhood, they were cooked down with country ham until they were dark green and falling apart. Those were good green beans, too. But what about the times in between the holidays and my down-and-dirty Southern joints? I made green beans all sorts of ways — sauteed with slivers of fresh garlic, tossed with some lemon juice, or even just coated in butter — but nothing seemed to satisfy me the way the incredibly unhealthy ways to eat green beans did. Sigh. It seems like that’s always the case.
I was content to reserve green beans for only the holiest, most decadent occasions until I stumbled upon this Nom Nom Paleo recipe for the best roasted green beans, ever. Sure, I’ve made some tweaks, but basically, the combination of a really hot oven, a few dashes of olive oil and a sprinkling of fish sauce = tender, smoky-tart green beans that seriously take zero effort and make the best side dish.
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I make these green beans any time we need a quick side dish. The green beans are usually the first step in my dinner making process — I just grab a bunch, rinse them and toss them in a mix of olive oil, pepper and fish sauce, then spread them in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
While the green beans are roasting, I’m freed up to make the main course for dinner. The other day, we grilled steaks (which turned out to be a terrible idea because even though it wasn’t cold, there was a tornado watch and the hubby nearly blew away trying to roast them). On another night, I put the green beans on one rack in the oven and some flounder filets crusted in panko on another and let both roast at the same time. We’ve also had these green beans as an accompaniment to curry night.
The key here in roasting your green beans is to let them get just a little brown and charred on the edges — that creates this great smokiness and a really great contrast to the salty goodness of the fish sauce. After I discovered this recipe, we’ve been eating all of our green beans this way. If it weren’t for social graces and the needs of my family, I”d probably just dump these guys into a bowl and snack on them in front of the TV. Would I look totally weird and inappropriate with my hand down a big bowl of lukewarm green beans?
I mean, I don’t know if that’s any more weird or inappropriate than what’s normally going on at my house, given the crazy kids we have running around . . .
- 1 lb green beans, trimmed and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- optional: lemon or lime
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large bowl, toss together the green beans, fish sauce, pepper and olive oil.
- Line a baking sheet with foil. Pour the green bean mixture onto the baking sheet, spreading out the green beans into a single layer as best you can.
- Slide the baking sheet into the oven and set the timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, grab some tongs and open the oven. Carefully pull out the baking sheet and turn over the green beans with your tongs. Place the baking sheet back into the oven.
- Set the timer for another 10-12 minutes and roast the green beans until they're slightly brown at the edges and a little wilted.
- Toss with more fish sauce or lime/lemon and serve immediately.