A few Thanksgivings ago (wow, now that I think about it, it’s more like ten), I started roasting haricots verts until they blistered, then zapping them with grated lemon zest on their way from oven to table. Ever since, that’s become my go-to potluck veggie dish. In fact, I rarely prepare string (or stringless) beans any other way.
But it’s been way too hot here to fire up my oven the past two weeks (well, except for that rogue batch of blueberry hand pies), so I wondered if I could accomplish the same results on the grill.
And I’m feeling kind of dopey that I didn’t try it sooner.
When I do these in the oven, I toss the beans with some minced shallot, but since I still had a few lashes of garlic scapes in the crisper, I used those instead. Either one works great, and I’m sure you could even sub in a couple scallions if that’s what you had on hand. As for the beans, any green or purple will do. We got a big bag of gorgeous, heirloom Red Burgundy Beans in our CSA sharebox this week, so that’s what I used.
- 1 pound green or purple beans
- 2 tbsps oil (I used half olive oil, half walnut oil)
- 2 roughly chopped garlic scapes (or minced shallot or scallion)
- pinch of kosher salt
- zest of half a lemon
- handful of chopped nuts (optional – I used hazelnuts, but walnuts or almonds are great, too)
- 1 tbsp chopped herbs (optional – I used tarragon)
- Special equipment: I wouldn’t try this without a grill basket or vented sheet pan to keep your beans from falling through the grates.
Wash the beans, and snip or snap off the stems. Some people also lop off the tips. I don’t, usually, but no judgement if you do. Admittedly, the trimming can be tedious; you can speed it up a little with this neat trick.
In a large bowl, toss the beans, scapes (or shallot or scallion), and nuts (if you’re using them) with the oils, to coat.
Grill in a basket or on a vented grill pan over direct, medium-high heat (I shot for around 425°), tossing every few minutes, until the beans are blistered and al dente. That took about 8 minutes for the batch I photographed here.
While they’re still steaming hot, transfer the beans to a serving bowl. Salt to taste, then sprinkle with lemon zest and herbs. If you like (and I do), you can add a benedictory splash of olive or nut oil.
Don’t be scared of the char. The dusting of lemon zest mellows that beautifully.
Royal Burgundy and other purple beans, by the way, fade to green when you cook them, whether you simmer, steam, roast, or grill. That can be a little jarring if you’re not expecting it, so consider yourself warned. If you want to geek out over the science behind why (anthocyanins! heat! the acidity of cell sap!), have at it here.
These are best piping hot, when the whole room is still scented with heavenly lemon, but they’re pretty great at room temperature, too – or even the next day as a base for a vegetable salad.