Tender-crisp green beans with bacon and pine nuts is a great combination of textures and flavors – rich and buttery and crispy and crunchy. It’s the perfect side dish for your holiday feast!
When it comes to vegetable side dishes, most nights of the week I find it easier to do really simple, plain versions to serve alongside whatever it is we are eating for dinner. I don’t always go all out on a fancier version like these green beans with bacon & pine nuts. Not that these are hard to make or even super time consuming, but they do call for a few extra steps and on a regular weeknight, well, I usually just don’t have the time. But for a holiday meal or a Sunday dinner or if we are invited to a friends house, this is one of my favorite vegetable sides to serve.
You can save yourself some time by just buying a bag of pre-washed and trimmed beans from the store. We always seem to have a bag somewhere floating around in the fridge because green beans are such a favorite at our house. My girls are weird and eat them raw as a pre-dinner snack.
If you don’t have pine nuts on hand, walnuts are a good substitute. Really you could use pretty much whatever nuts you want, just be sure you chop them up a bit before adding them though. Slivered almonds are very traditional with green beans but personally, I prefer the buttery, richer texture and taste of pine nuts or walnuts in this particular dish. I’m such a fiend for nuts that I have an entire section of my freezer dedicated to bags of almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, & macadamia nuts. They just add so much to salads and desserts and sides, not to mention being good snacking options during the day.
There are so many great things going on with the different textures and flavors in this side dish that I honestly think I prefer it to something creamier and heavier like a green bean casserole that is traditionally served at many a Thanksgiving feast.
- 2 1/2 pounds green beans, washed & ends trimmed
- 1/2 pound bacon, roughly chopped
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Prepare a large bowl of ice water for an ice bath. Set aside.
Fill a large pot with salted water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add the washed and trimmed green beans to the salted water and cook until bright green in color and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the beans and then shock them by dumping them in the bowl of ice water to stop the beans from cooking any more. Drain the beans again and pat dry.
Cook the bacon in a large, heavy pan over medium-high heat until crisp. I prefer chopping my bacon first and then stirring it around in the pan to cook it for this dish, rather than frying the bacon in strips and chopping it up afterwards. Remove the cooked bacon pieces to a plate lined with paper towels using a slotted spoon, then pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the excess bacon grease
Add the onion to the pan with the reserved bacon grease and sauté until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about 1 more minute.
Add the green beans and the pine nuts to the onion and garlic and toss to combine. Cook until heated through and pine nuts are toasty, about 5 to 6 minutes more, tossing frequently so the pine nuts don't burn. Return the bacon to the pan, add the lemon juice and toss everything to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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