French-style green beans topped with buttery toasted breadcrumbs.
Updated November 2017
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup yellow onions that have been diced small
1 garlic clove, minced (about 1/2 Tablespoon)
1 pound haricot vert (thin, French-style green beans), rinsed and trimmed as needed (see notes)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup breadcrumbs from good-quality French bread (eg, baguette)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute briefly until fragrant. Add the green beans, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper, tossing to combine everything. Pour 1/4 cup water into the pan, turn the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for about 15 minutes, turning the green beans halfway through for even cooking. Green beans are done when they are easily pierced with a fork, but still retain their shape.
2. While the green beans are cooking, melt the butter in a small skillet (preferred) over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and salt. Stir to combine, so the breadcrumbs are evenly coated with the butter. Adjust the heat as needed to allow the breadcrumbs to sizzle and crisp, turning a beautiful golden brown color, without burning.
3. Taste a green bean for doneness and seasoning. Allow them to cook a few more minutes if needed, and adjust seasoning to taste. If the liquid in the bottom of the pan seems watery, simmer over medium-high with the lid off for 5 minutes or so to evaporate the excess liquid.
4. Transfer the green beans to a serving dish, leaving excess fluid behind. Scatter the garlic/onion mixture from the bottom of the pan over the top of the beans. Top with the toasted breadcrumbs and serve.
Haricot vert are really nice to use, especially for special occasions. They're thin, cook quickly, and great when cooked al dente. If you can't find them, you can substitute standard American-style green beans but you'll likely need to increase the cooking time a bit in Step 1.
You can buy ready-made breadcrumbs, or you can make your own fairly easily from the leftover ends or other pieces of a baguette. Here's what I do:
Chop the baguette into chunks, and then let the chunks sit out at room temperature for a day or two until they get stale and somewhat hard. (You're going for stale, not moldy - so don't seal them in plastic.) Alternatively, you could set them in a very low oven for 15-20 minutes to dry them out. Then, spin them around in the food processor with the metal blade attachment until they're reduced to breadcrumbs.
You can store the breadcrumbs in an airtight container in the freezer for a few months.
Don't use panko-style breadcrumbs for this.