There’s nothing quite like the snap of crunchy green beans. That fresh, bright crunch just feels like it’s doing you good. But when you dress them up with a squeeze of lemon and some pan-toasted flaked almonds, you’ve got a smart side on your hands.
True fact: my kids hate beans. Also, they hate lemon juice. But whatever, that just means more for me and The Husband. (We are still that family that makes 3 options for every meal – because they won’t eat what I eat, and I refuse to eat ‘kid food’. Meh – it’s the choice we make. I can’t live my life without spicy, sour, zesty, fiery flavours and they can’t eat vegetables without tomato sauce. Go figure.)
But back to the beans. These are best made with fresh beans – sure, the frozen kind come in handy in a pinch, but they can tend to be a little watery. Fresh green beans deliver that snap we’re looking for, and make an ideal wing-man for our Chicken, Leek & Filo Pies or our Slow Cooked BBQ Beef Brisket.
The freshness of the flavour, the zing of the lemon and the crunch of the almonds cuts through the lush richness of the meat and gives your tastebuds a little break from all. that. flavour. But you can add these to whatever dish you’re cooking – or pack them in a container for lunch or a picnic. Just add the almonds right before serving and you’re sweet.
This one is so simple you don’t even need a recipe. But here’s one anyway, ’cause I’m just that kinda chick.
Crunchy Green Beans with Flaked Almonds
- 250 g green beans, top and tailed
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp flaked almonds
- In a dry non-stick pan, toast the almonds over medium heat until just starting to change colour. Put aside. (Don't leave these unattended – they are like small children, they'll turn on you in an instant.)
- Toss the beans in the same pan and cook over high heat until their colour starts to brighten, tossing frequently. (Add a drizzle of water if required so they don't stick.)
- When the beans are just done, squeeze over the lemon juice and let that bad boy sizzle. Toss the beans in the pan to ensure they're coated, and transfer to a serving dish or plate.
- Top with the toasted flaked almonds and a pinch of salt if desired.
What makes a smart side?
Smart sides deliver more bang for your culinary buck. Think of these as the super-power for your main meal. While you might be all about that slow cooked beef or that oven baked chicken, the sides are where it’s at for a massive micronutrient hit.
We’re talking veggies, straight up. If you don’t like vegetables, find some that you do. If you don’t like them raw, try a gazillion different ways to cook them. The boiled green beans of my childhood would set no one’s tastebuds alight. But these crunchy green beans with the sizzle of lemon juice brighten up any dish. Or you could try beans raw, chopped in a salad. Or snapped into a stir fry.
At Athletist, we eat anywhere between 500g to 1kg of veggies a day. No lie. It fills us up, gives us energy, hits our vitamin and mineral needs, and ensures we’re not snacking on junk in between meals. Plus it delivers a fibre hit – and most of us are massively deficient in our fibre intake. At Athletist, we aim for around 45g of fibre a day (by comparison, less than 20% of Aussies consume the Standard Daily Target for fibre, which is 28g for women and 38g for men).
Want more smart sides? Check out our Best Ever Brussels Sprouts for starters, then dive in to the recipes in our Eat section.