Banish the thought of overcooked, mushy string beans: In this smart recipe, Melia Marden cooks the beans in a small amount of water until they're just tender but still bright green. Then, she removes them, dries the pan and flash-fries the vegetables in olive oil until they're slightly charred all over. The finishing touch: garnishes of fried shallots, chopped basil and crumbled pecorino cheese.

Serves 4


For the fried shallots:
  • 2 medium shallots, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
For the string beans:
  • 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds string beans, stem ends trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 ounces pecorino cheese, crumbled


Make the fried shallots: Place the shallot slices in a single layer on a paper towel and press with another paper towel to remove moisture.

In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Drop in the shallots and fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Let cool completely. (The shallots will keep for up to 2 months stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.)

Make the string beans: In a wide, heavy-bottomed sauté pan, bring 2 inches of water and 2 tsp. of the salt to a boil.

Add the beans and cook until they are just tender but still bright green, about 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with very cold water to stop them from overcooking.

Dry the sauté pan and return it to very high heat. Add the oil and heat until very hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the green beans, the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and a generous amount of pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the beans are slightly charred all over, about 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Combine with the fried shallots, basil and cheese and serve at room temperature.

From Modern Mediterranean by Melia Marden © Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013.

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