I feel like I owe Ina Garten an apology: For years I didn't think much of her or her cookbooks, but now I think I was mistaken in my prejudice towards the Barefoot Contessa. I'd only ever cooked one of her recipes once, and the one I tried was imprecise in a way that I found frustrating. I felt like her cookbooks were pretty picture books not useful, interesting tools for cooks. Then, a copy of her latest book, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof landed on my desk at work, and I found myself flagging many recipes as ones I wanted to try myself. I followed her turkey instructions at Thanksgiving to much success and last night I test-drove two more dishes were from the book. With three successes, I have officially changed my tune about Ina Garten.
These green beans and a Provencal Tomato Gratin were both simple, delicious recipes I will make again and again. (Note to Costco shoppers: Double the green bean recipe and use a big bag of Costco's French green beans, and use their large container of cherry tomatoes for the tomato gratin.) I followed Garten's suggestion blanch the green beans and make the gremolata in advance and store them separately in the refrigerator. Before dinner, I reheated the beans and tossed them with the gremolata.
So, Ina, for what it's worth: I'm sorry. I hope to spend more time with your recipes and get to know you better.
From Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Foolproof
1 pound French green beans (haricots verts), trimmed
2 Tbsp. pine nuts
2 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
3 Tbsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2½ Tbsp. good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add green beans and blanch 2 to 3 minutes, until tender but still crisp. Drain beans in a colander and immediately put them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and preserve their bright green color.
2. Place pine nuts in a dry sauté pan over low heat and cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned. Set aside.
3. To make gremolata, toss garlic, lemon zest, parsley, Parmesan, and pine nuts together in a small bowl and set aside.
4. When ready to serve, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Drain beans and pat dry. Add beans to skillet and sauté, turning frequently, 2 minutes, until coated with olive oil and heated through. Remove from heat, add gremolata, and toss well. Sprinkle with ¾ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper to taste and serve hot.