Worrying about the big holiday meal has apparently been passed on to me from many generations before. My mother, grandmother, and aunts started planning their holiday dishes far in advance. Everything had to be exceptional, and it seemed to take them days to cook and prepare for the feast. Don’t get me wrong; they did a fine job of it too! In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had any better meals than those in my memories.
I am still going to start planning weeks in advance but after years of fretting I have figured out that every dish does not have to be painstakingly hard or time-consuming. Nevertheless, it can be every bit as delicious.
These days there seem to be fewer casseroles on holiday tables compared to years past. I have noticed at my family gatherings alone; we now have asparagus, Brussel sprouts, and green beans. I never saw those on Thanksgiving and Christmas tables when I was growing up. Sure, there will always be the sweet potato casseroles and a few of the other classics. However, with our society being more health conscious, and fresh produce more readily available, fresh vegetables have become increasingly popular side dishes for holiday feasts.
Thanks to Berry Farms in Lyons I have these wonderful fresh organic green beans. These fabulous green beans are not only delicious, but they are very easy to prepare as well. You may find that this becomes a year round side dish because they are so yummy!
Balsamic and Garlic Green Beans
- 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Cook beans in boiling salted water to cover over high heat for 6 minutes; drain. Plunge into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process; drain.
- Saute garlic in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add the beans and saute 3 to 4 minutes. Add vinegar, salt, and pepper; saute 1 minute.
Here’s another great vegetable salad recipe. This recipe uses convenient canned vegetables, which makes it an easy year-round recipe. This salad has been a favorite of mine since I was a child. It was always on the table at family get-togethers, and it’s great for cookouts and picnics.
My mom uses Splenda in place of sugar, which is an excellent option. You can mix up the beans. Try adding frozen English peas in place of chickpeas, or maybe cannellini (white kidney beans) rather than red kidney beans. Stored in an airtight container it last about one week in the refrigerator.
- 1 (15.5-oz.) can Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-oz.) can cut green beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ c. chopped bell pepper
- ½ c. chopped onion
- ½ c. white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- ½ c. vegetable oil
- ½ c. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- Pour rinsed and drained beans into a large bowl. Add chopped bell pepper and onions. Mix and set aside.
- Mix vinegar, oil, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves. Pour over bean mixture and gently mix. Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.
If you are making your holiday menu take a look at this dish. These are wonderful! After all, bacon makes everything better! You will definitely need to plan on more than one bundle per person.
The mixture of butter, dry mustard, brown sugar, garlic and salt makes a delicious marinade for these beans. Then after you bundle them with bacon, you bake them in the same marinade. I prefer to marinate my beans overnight. The amount of bacon may vary, depending on the size of your beans and the number you put in each bundle. You may notice that some of my beans look burned. They do NOT have a burned flavor. This is the way my green been bundles always look because I like my bacon crispy. Watch closely though because you probably don’t want them to bake longer than this. In my convection oven it usually takes 45 minutes. If you are not baking in a convection oven it may take a little longer.
Green Bean Bundles
- 1½ lb. green beans, trimmed
- ½ c. unsalted butter
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 2 tsp. packed brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 8 oz. bacon
- Fill a large saucepan with water and a pinch or two of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Wash and trim beans. Add the beans to the boiling water and blanch for 3 to 4 minutes, until the beans are pliable but still crunchy. Drain the beans, run them under cold water, then pat dry with paper towels.
- Place beans, in a single layer (or as close to as you can get) in a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the dry mustard, brown sugar, garlic, and salt. Pour the butter mixture over the green beans. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove beans from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Make bundles of 8 or 9 beans, wrap half a bacon slice around each bundle and secure with a toothpick. Arrange in a single layer in the same casserole used for marinating.
- Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked and the beans look wrinkled. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature.