so, this recipe? it’s delicious. also? it can make a bit of a mess. those tasty little mustard seeds, well, left to their own devices, they would love to be just about anywhere but in the pan you’re using to cook them.
it’s so worth it, though. this recipe was my gateway to liking green beans: my senior year of college, one of my friends/housemates was raving about these green beans and wanted to cook them for us on her night to make dinner. i remember thinking, “ok, fine, but green beans are gross.” my skepticism did not diminish as i watched her hop back and forth from one foot to the other in front of the stove, trying to avoid getting burned by rogue mustard seeds leaping from the pan (see recipe notes for tips on curtailing this).
boy was i wrong! the garlic, the subtle heat (or not so subtle, if you prefer) from the crushed red pepper, and the mustard seems themselves – yum! these green beans have been a staple for me ever since. i always make a huge batch so that i’ll have plenty of leftovers.
at this point, you’re probably thinking, “ok, these do sound pretty good, but i’ll stick to making them in my own kitchen. i won’t, say, bring them to someone else’s house who i have only recently befriended so as to cement our friendship by covering her stovetop and adjacent counter in tiny black spheres.” if that is, indeed, what you are thinking, then you are much smarter than i am. luckily, the new friend was a good sport, i cleaned everything up after we ate, and the green beans were delicious enough to make it worth it.
what about you? do you have any favorite recipes that are totally worth the mess?
- 450 g. (16 oz.) fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut into 2 – 3” lengths
- 1 tablespoon extra light olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds (see notes)
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (adjust to taste)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch the green beans for 2 minutes. when two minutes is up, drain the green beans right away and run cold water over them, turning them so they all cool off (or put them in an ice water bath). the beans should still be fairly crunchy when you drain them as they will be cooked more later. dry the beans as much as possible to reduce oil splatters later on.
- in a large skillet, ideally with higher sides, heat the oil over medium-high heat. once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and stir them around for about 30 seconds. watch for flying (hot!) mustard seeds (see notes).
- once the mustard seeds have popped for a few seconds, add the garlic and stir it around for a few seconds until it’s fragrant but not yet browning. add the crushed red pepper and stir.
- add the green beans and sprinkle the salt over the top of them. use a spatula to turn and flip the beans so that they get covered in the oil/mustard seed/garlic mixture. sauté the beans for about 2 minutes, or until they are your preferred level of doneness. i like the beans best with a little bit of crunch left.
- remove from heat and serve immediately.
black mustard seeds are available from indian grocery stores (usually the cheapest option), well stocked grocery/specialty food stores, or online (amazon has a bunch of options).
if you have a splatter screen that you use to cook bacon or fry things, now is a great time to pull it out. you only need it during the brief time when the mustard seeds are in the pan without the green beans, but during that time, it’s definitely helpful.
adapted from “gujerati-style green beans” in madhur jaffrey’s indian cooking.