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This post is the final in a series of Christmas themed steam oven recipes and ideas. I’ve put links to all the previous Christmas recipes at the bottom of this post – there’s something for every steam oven cook, from appetiser right through to dessert.
I’m dropping in ever so briefly today, in the midst of Christmas week wrapping, shopping and cooking, to share one of my favourite (and easiest) festive season side dishes.
Green beans with almonds and balsamic dressing is one of those recipes you could make at any time of year, but for some reason I always associate it with Christmas meals. I first made it about fifteen years ago for a party with friends, and it still gets an outing at least once a year. Mostly because it can be put together in a matter of minutes and its simplicity and vibrance are always well received as part of a larger spread. I first started making this with beans cooked in boiling water, but using the steam oven to cook the beans means they retain so much more flavour and texture, and is much easier than having to drain them from a pot.
This is a dish comprised of nothing more what the title says, but if your ingredients are right – bright, sweet green beans, freshly roasted almonds, decent balsamic vinegar and olive oil – it comes together as something more than the sum of its parts. The beans bring a welcome green component to any rich meal and the deeply toasty almonds, purposely left whole, add a luxurious crunch. A dressing leaning more heavily to sweet/sour balsamic vinegar than oil is good for digestion and gives a lift to the earthiness of the beans and nuts. If you’re after a last-minute addition to the table on Christmas day and in need of a failsafe recipe requiring easy-to-get ingredients, you should definitely make it. You can dress it up by adding a spoonful of Dijon mustard to the dressing, or scattering some dried cranberries over the beans with the almonds, but neither is really necessary to make it impressive.
I wish all of you the loveliest of Christmases and New Years, wherever you are. It’s a good time to say how very very much I appreciate your visits to my little steam oven corner of the internet, along with your comments, feedback and questions. Writing here is something I often struggle to do as far as time is concerned, but I truly love doing it and the growing number of you who read and cook the recipes make it such a pleasure. I hope whatever you’re doing for the holiday season that you stay safe, eat well, drink just enough to be merry, and get to share the festivities with your loved ones (oh, and maybe cook something delicious in your steam oven!).
I’m signing off for a couple of weeks but I’ll see you back here in January with some great steam oven recipes and plans for 2017.
Steamed Green Beans, Almonds and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing
Serves 6-8 as part of a meal, can easily be doubled or tripled.
You can serve these hot or at room temperature. If you’re eating the leftovers the next day, I wouldn’t reheat them though, as heating the dressed beans seems to give them a funny metallic taste.
If you are particularly concerned about the colour of your beans, you can absolutely refresh them in iced water as soon as they come out of the oven. I don’t always bother, but it does give them a brighter colour.
I’m able to buy very decent (and usually quite fresh) pre-roasted almonds at the supermarket – if you can’t buy them, just roast raw ones at 180⁰C in a conventional (fan forced) oven for about 10-12 minutes, until they are toasty smelling and the skins have started to crack and are darkened just a little.
The dressing quantities are purposely vague – I like something erring on the side of too vinegary but I know that’s not for everyone. Feel free to adjust up the oil a bit to taste. I don’t add salt to the dressing because most everything else we eat with this dish is generally salty enough, but again, you do what you like.
750g (approx. 1lb 10oz) fresh green beans, washed and topped (I leave the tails on unless they are a bit ‘past it’, in which case you might want to trim them off)
200g whole roasted skin-on almonds (or roast your own, see above)
About 3 tbs (60ml) balsamic vinegar
About 2 tbs (40ml) extra virgin olive oil
A few grinds of black pepper
Set your oven to 100⁰C/212⁰F on steam-only setting (100% humidity).
Put the beans into a large, solid stainless steel tray and steam them for 10-12 minutes – you want them to be soft but with a little bit of bite left in them.
While the beans cook, whisk together the oil and vinegar and add black pepper to taste. Set aside.
Once the beans are cooked to your liking, remove from the oven. Toss them in the dressing while hot so they absorb the flavours. Put them onto a platter and scatter the almonds over the top to serve.
But I don’t have a steam/combi-steam oven! I think this one is a little self-explanatory, but here you go: boil the beans, or, if you have one big enough, steam them in a stove-top steamer basket over a saucepan.
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A full steam oven Christmas menu – mix and match as you please!
· Cherry Tomato Tarts (combi steam)
· Christmas Roast Duck (combi steam)
· Steam Oven Roast Turkey Round-up (steam only and combi steam options)
· Steamed Christmas Pudding with apricots, figs and orange (steam only)
· Fruit Mince Pies with Walnut Pastry (combi steam)