Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

It doesn’t take much to dress up green beans for a holiday meal. In this recipe the beans first blanched and then sautéed with pancetta and shallots, with some salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning. You can use thinly sliced onion in place of the shallots or substitute bacon or diced ham for the pancetta if that is what you have on hand.

The secret to delicious green beans is using beans that are crispy fresh to begin with. Bend one in half; if it breaks easily, it’s fresh, if it just bends, without breaking, then it’s a little passed its prime and you’ll have a tougher time getting the beans to turn out well. The second tip is to not overcook the beans (though if they are older, you might have to cook them longer than usual to get them tender), and to douse them in an ice water bath after boiling to seal in their bright green color and to stop the cooking.

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Green Beans with Shallots and Pancetta Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound green beans, ends trimmed, strings removed (if any)
  • Salt
  • 2 ounces pancetta, diced very small
  • 2-3 large shallots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Blanch the beans in a large pot of boiling salted water 4 minutes, or until they are crisp tender. Note: Test one, if it is "chewy" keep the beans cooking a bit longer. If you are using French cut beans, or extra thin beans, they may not need to cook as long as 4 minutes; start testing them at 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Drain and place the beans in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again and set aside. (At this point you can make the beans a day ahead, store in refrigerator.)

2 Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the diced pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta from the pan to a plate.

3 Add the shallots to the pan. Cook, stirring often, on medium high heat, in the fat rendered from the pancetta, until lightly browned.

4 Add butter to the pan; add the drained green beans and pancetta. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir constantly until the beans are hot and are well mixed with the shallots and pancetta. Serve immediately.

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8 Comments

  1. jonathan

    At long last…

    A green bean recipe that doesn’t involve a can of condensed cream-of-something soup, and french-fried onions from a can.

    Hallelujah.

    (Oh yeah…Happy Holidays to you and yours, Elise!)

  2. Paul

    Can someone explain the value of blanching the beans? I make green beans in a similar way, but just saute them with the other ingredients.

    Blanching them cooks them more evenly, and when you shock them in cold water it locks in the bright green color. ~Elise

  3. J.R.

    Tried this using bacon and I don’t think it had the same effect you had as there wasn’t a ton of flavor.

    Oh well, next time will make sure to get pancetta!

    Merry Christmas.

  4. Renee

    Thanks for the inspiration! I made something similar for Christmas dinner. I cooked a sliced zucchini along with some green beans, cooked a couple slices of bacon, sauted a little onion and garlic, and mixed it together.

    Thank you for your wonderful recipes throughout the year!

  5. Cassandra

    My mother use to make this for me and I absolutely LOVE it. She uses Bacon and it is just to die for! One of my favorite side meals and the EASIEST!
    Thank you !

  6. Abby

    What a hit! My entire Christmas dinner from roast beef to yorkshire pudding to this fabulous green bean and pancetta side came from your website. Everything was amazing and so easy to makre, it made my Christmas a breeze. This side is absolutely fabulous – ridiculously easy but filled with flavor! Everyone loved it. Thank you thank you thank you for your fabulous site, it made my holiday!!!

  7. Justine Tarabokija

    Hi. I love your recipes. I have one question. Can this be made a day for service the following day? And if so what reheating meathod would you suggest? Thank you so much

    • Elise

      Hi Justine, you could blanch the green beans a day ahead of time, otherwise what you are essentially doing is reheating leftovers. Will the dish be great if you make it and reheat it the next day? Probably not as good as if you had just made it. If it were me, I would reheat it in the microwave.

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