Sunday, May 1, 2011

Instead of French Fries

French fries are a food that I've avoided eating for years now. It's not that I refuse to eat carbs or fried foods or even pretend to be on a diet. But fries are one of those things I like but I can resist, and I may as well take advantage and resist them. I prefer to save my calories for those things I can't resist, like cheese, ice cream, and baked goods.

There is nothing that can replace the taste of french fries late at night, and it beckons those college days when we'd visit the 24 hour Burger King when nothing else was open. I'd order a milkshake and fries, their mingling salty and sweet a flavor profile that even today will make me feel 18 again. We'd talk about the boys in our classes or the tennis players from our floor or the guy who looked like actor Andrew Shue (Remember Melrose Place?). We'd huddle up in the cold walking back to the dorm, years of college ahead, friends we had only just met not knowing we'd be friends for life, not knowing which night would be the last one we'd make that BK run.

I don't miss those French fries, and I don't honestly miss that life or that age. But I miss that feeling of comfort, surrounded by friends and no real responsibilities other than making a decent grade and getting a date to dorm formal. I seem to be on a "grown up" theme lately, so here's my grown up version of French fries.

These roasted green beans look and sound like a vegetable, but the crispy salty exterior and tender interior is exactly like a fry. You'll pick them up and eat them with your hands and you won't be able to eat them fast enough. Eat them with your friends, gossip a little, let yourself feel like a college kid again - but a wiser, healthier version of one.

Roasted Sesame Green Beans (Cook's Illustrated)
Serves 4

1 pound green beans, stem ends snapped off
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon mince garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; spread beans on baking sheet. Drizzle with oil; using hands, toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss to coat, and distribute in an even layer. Roast 10 minutes. Meanwhile combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Remove baking sheet from oven. Using tongs, coat beans evenly with garlic/ginger mixture. Redistribute in an even layer. Continue roasting until dark golden brown in spots and starting to shrivel, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Adjust seasoning with salt and toss well to combine. Transfer to serving dish.

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