I’m not really into kitchen gadgets. I don’t have a garlic press, an egg separater or an egg slicer. My kitchen is well outfitted, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t like cluttered drawers and cabinets. There is one “gadget,” if you can even call it that, that you’ll see me call for over and over in my recipes. It is a microplane zester.
If you are looking for a last minute gift for a foodie in your life, go out and get a microplane zester (aka a rasp-style grater.) In these darkest days of winter it is the key to brightness. Run a ginger root over a microplane and it yields tiny particles of ginger much finer than a mince. It’s like fiery ginger essence without the harsh surprise of a chunk that escaped the knife.
In this festive recipe for green beans, the microplane is really helpful. I used it for both ginger and the orange zest. The zest is just the outermost skin of a citrus fruit. The microplane shaves off only the top most layer of the orange leaving behind the bitter white pith and juicy flesh. After zesting, the orange can be halved and juiced for the recipe too. The ginger and orange zest melt into the dish and create a bright wowza glaze. Perfect flavors for pairing with a lot of Christmas main course roasts like duck, pork loin, ham or turkey.
Another reason this cheerful green bean recipe is great for Christmas is that it can be made ahead. Basically you’re just reheating the beans in the glaze right before serving. The green beans get trimmed, blanched (partially cooked in boiling water,) shocked (cooled down in a bowl of ice water,) and then kept in the fridge a day ahead. That way when it’s time to serve you can focus on the things that really need last-minute attention like making the garlic mashed potatoes and gravy or opening wine.
To Make ahead: Prepare through step 3 up to 1 day in advance. Store the zest mixture and the blanched green beans, covered, in the refrigerator.
- 1 tablespoon plus
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 pounds green beans
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest, from about 1 orange
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger root
- Tons of freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Place a large pot of water on to boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt to the water.
- Meanwhile, trim stem-end off of the green beans. Stir together orange zest, orange juice and honey in a small bowl. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with a generous amount of ice and cold water.
- Boil the green beans, stirring occasionally, until crisp tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the beans and transfer to the ice bath. When they are cool, drain again.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring until just softened and starting to brown slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in ginger, and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the green beans and zest mixture, and cook, tossing to combine until the beans are heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
0 mg cholesterol, 1.1 added sugars
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