Green beans with pancetta

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When the leaves finally turn and the air starts to get crisp (ish) in Texas, it usually means Friendsgiving season is rolling around. Which means just another year I plan to never, ever sign up to make – or even help make – a turkey. I typically go pie, but this year I might just go side dish.

A friend asked me about how I'd approach green beans for a Friendsgiving party, and my immediate question was, "Lemony or bacon-y?" She answered bacon-y, which made me very happy. (If you like garlic and lemon, try these green beans.) 

To balance the salty pancetta – which has a different texture and more subtle flavor than bacon – I add chopped hazelnuts. They bring a nice crunch, but you could use almonds or pecans, too.

So, I present to you a gluten-free, 30-minute-or-less Friendsgiving side dish contribution. The key to this efficiency is to start cooking the pancetta while the water for the green beans comes to a boil. 

This recipe serves 6 as a side dish, and it's easily halved or doubled.

What you need

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed

2 oz pancetta (about 1/4 cup)

2 tbsp roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional) 

2 tbsp butter (If you want to make this lactose-free, you can use EVOO)

Salt, to taste and more for salting water

Freshly cracked white pepper, to taste

How to do it

Boil a large pot of water.

While waiting for the water to boil, begin preparing the pancetta. In a small (preferably nonstick) sauté pan, add all pancetta and turn on burner to medium heat. Cook pancetta until fat is rendered, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Once the water reaches a rolling boil, add salt to water; you want the water to taste like the Atlantic Ocean. 

Drop in green beans and boil 4-6 minutes, until just tender but still with a slight crunch.

Remove green beans from the water and transfer to your serving vessel. While still warm, toss the green beans in butter. Then add the pancetta and hazelnuts, tossing if desired. Season with salt and pepper. 

Serve warm. 

Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container or covered with plastic wrap.