Overcooked and mushy green beans be gone! Slathering green beans with miso and garnishing them with candied walnuts is basically the only way I'll eat green beans now.
I grew up with soft, mushy green beans. They were so overcooked that they looked gray and completely unappetizing (sorry mom!). As a result of this childhood trauma, for years I never bothered to buy green beans, cook them or even grow them. Until recently that is. After I started growing different varieties (green, purple, yellow, flat and long beans), I started experimenting with different flavor profiles.
Whenever I cook anything, I always try to balance the 4 main flavors (sweet, bitter, sour and salty). In the 1990s, a fifth flavor became the talk of the town (or the world). This fifth flavor is Umami, which is described as savoryness. Umami taste is common to foods that contain high levels of L-glutamate like mushrooms, seaweed and even tomatoes! Yes tomatoes!
Another umami-packed food is Miso. Miso is a staple Japanese food product made by fermenting soybeans with salt and kōji (a fungus/mold called Aspergillus oryzae) and oftentimes rice, barley, seaweed, or other ingredient. The most famous miso-based recipe is of course miso soup, which any ramen or sushi lover will know about. Miso paste is quite versatile and can be used a thousand and one ways. There are many types of miso, but in North America, you'll generally find white, yellow and red miso paste at your local Asian grocery store (although I have been finding miso at most grocery stores recently). Specialty stores may carry other varieties. Your mileage may vary depending on where you live.
In this recipe, I use miso to give humble green beans a savory and delicious coating. Paired with sweet candied walnuts, this recipe truly balances all the main flavors.
These green beans are a perfect side dish for your thanksgiving feast. Speaking of thanksgiving, make sure to check out our other recipes: Creamy Garden Coleslaw with Kale and Radish and Roasted Squash Soup with 3 Garnish Ideas.
Miso Green Beans with Candied Walnuts
- 1 cup Walnuts
- ¼ cup White sugar
- 1 tablespoon Butter
- 1 lbs Green beans - Trimmed and cleaned
- 2 tablespoon Butter
- 2 Shallots - Onion can be used instead
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon White miso paste
- Salt/pepper to taste
Make candied walnuts
- In a nonstick skillet, add walnuts, sugar and butter. Cook on medium heat until sugar melts and begins to caramelize (approx. 5 minutes). Make sure to keep stirring with a rubber spatula so that the sugar doesn't burn and the walnuts are coated properly.
- When the sugar is caramelized transfer all the walnuts to a parchment lined baking sheet. Quickly separate the walnuts so that you don't end up with clumps of candied nuts. You're looking for perfectly caramelized individual walnut pieces. Set aside for later.
Cook and plate green beans
- Boil green beans in a large pot with salted water. Don't overcook. You want the beans to remain bright green and crunchy. I usually only boil them for 2-3 minutes.
- In a nonstick skillet, add butter, sliced shallots and sliced (or minced) garlic. Cook on medium heat until shallots and garlic soften (but not brown). Add cooked green beans and continue to cook and toss for another minute or two. Turn off heat.
- In a small bowl, dissolve miso in 3 tablespoons of hot water. Add the miso mixture to the green beans (off heat) and toss to coat.
- Transfer green beans, shallots, garlic and miso sauce to a serving dish. Garnish with candied walnuts.