spicy green bean stir-fry, or cook your veggies lighting-fast

How did summer go by so quickly? It’s as if I blinked and if was gone. And I’m ready for fall, not just yet, despite the fact that fall is my favorite season. Perhaps it’s because this summer, especially August were such busy months at work, that I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the usual lull of the month. Or maybe it’s because this has been one of the most enjoyable summers I can recall, with lots of new and exciting projects, including this one.
green beans and peppers sauteed in spicy sauce

But I suppose, everything has an upside, including summer coming to a close. Like my last trip to the green market last week rendered me positively giddy: fresh and ripe tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, Swiss chard, green beans among others. Since I haven’t had green beans in ages, I had to grab a small bag, but not before filling my bags to the brim with various produce. And so like this, I ambled home, beaming from my wonderful finds.

A few days had passed and the green beans were still peering at me from the crisper. I would grab a few each time I went to look for something in the fridge, wash them, and then eat them raw, reveling in their crisp flavors. But I wanted to cook them, if only a little bit, so that their vibrant green color stood out more. And yet the recipes I found didn’t really get me all that excited. Steaming the beans and drizzling lemon juice over them seemed very predictable, and even though that has always been my preferred way to eat these little green guys, I wanted to do something more exciting.

green beans and peppers sauteed in spicy sauce

And so I figured, why not give it a slight Asian twist, add a bit of ginger, some spicy sauce, slice a pepper into the mix and just sauté ever-so-lightly? And that is exactly what I did, spending perhaps not twenty minutes in the kitchen. Making a meal in such a short time feels almost like cheating. Glorious, time-saving cheating.

toasted sesame oil
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove
½ lb green beans
1 green pepper
a sprinkling of sesame seeds
chili garlic sauce (available at Asian grocery stores)
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp fish sauce (available at Asian grocery stores)

In a small glass combine the last three ingredients and set aside. You will need this sauce later for flavoring your vegetables.

In a walk or a non-stick skillet, heat a little bit of sesame oil, add ginger and let it flavor the oil for a minute. Reduce heat and add the garlic clove and allow it to flavor the oil, but not brown – after a minute or two remove the garlic clove and turn up the heat again. Add the green beans and the garlic and sauté, stirring quickly – you want the vegetables to be lightly coated in oil, not swimming in it, so be sure not to add too much oil in the beginning. Stir the vegetables for a couple of minutes until you see their color pop, then quickly add the spicy sauce mix and stir it around. Give it another minute and take off the heat, emptying your stir-fry in a bowl. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over and enjoy.

Note: if making this dish with tofu, be sure to add the tofu prior to adding the vegetables and sauté for a few minutes. As a garnish, cilantro would have really enhanced this meal, but we didn’t have any, so I had to make do with what we had.

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