Brussels sprouts are everywhere. In recent weeks I've had them roasted, boiled with butter, even tossed in a compound butter with anchovies. I love them but not everyone does, making them perfect for a restaurant (where you can choose your own side) but a bit risky to serve for company. This is especially true if some of your guests are kids, who are known to be even more sprout-averse than the average adult.
A much safer choice is green beans. Whether served cold and crisp in vinaigrette or tossed warm with blue cheese and walnuts, they can play up or down, casual or fancy. Unfortunately, frozen green beans are much less lovable than fresh. I learned this the hard way, when I pulled from the freezer one of the bags I'd blanched and frozen last summer. They were waterlogged and flabby, and my heart sank when I thought of the eight other bags remaining in the freezer from last year's CSA.
I couldn't just reheat and serve these floppy things. Crossing my fingers, I threw them in a very hot skillet with a few teaspoons of oil and seared them until blackened in places. As soon as they were done I sprinkled them with kosher salt and served them immediately. No one but me would've guessed their miraculous transformation.
Blackened Green Beans
Wash and trim 6-8 ounces of green beans. Blanch in boiling salted water until crisp-tender, then put in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain and dry well. Heat a large saute pan over high heat for a few minutes, then add 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, carefully add the beans (if they’re wet, they’ll spatter) and cook, stirring, until blackened in spots. Toss with salt and serve immediately.