One of the best (and luckiest) things I did in Austin for this year’s annual Herb Society of America’s annual educational conference was to order the grilled beans at Condessa Restaurant. It’s an upscale Mexican restaurant, just across the bridge from the hotel where the conference was held.
It was slamming busy, but the hostess told me I might find a seat at the bar and avoid the hour-long wait for a table. So I squeezed my big butt into a small barstool between two young couples on dates, and I ordered three appetizers as my vegetarian meal.
One of them happened to be grilled green beans. I figured, it’s protein and a vegetable, and vegan…perfect.
Later I heard the bartender recommending it to the couple to my left. I let them taste some of mine, since it was more food than I could eat myself. They liked them so much, they did order some for themselves.
The beans were cooked to perfection, with grill marks and an addictive charred flavor. They were succulent and juicy, actually bursting in my mouth when I bit them.
They were flavored with garlic, oil, salt, and chopped epazote, an herb used in Mexican cuisine. I am not yet familiar with that herb, except to say that I couldn’t detect any strong aroma or flavor from it, so I guessed you could leave it out if you don’t have it.
In fact, after I got back home, I tried to make this dish with the bounty of green beans from the garden. Here’s how I did it.
Vegan Grilled Green Beans
I blanched them a little while in boiling water, drained them, and tossed with some olive oil.
Then I used my George Foreman grill to grill them indoors. It took forever, but the time spent was very worth it. That char is essential; otherwise, they just taste like cooked beans with garlic.
I grilled the beans, then tossed them with minced garlic and salt. Delicious!!!
But the texture was wrong. They were limp and overcooked.
So, my recommendations are to try it if you are doing any outdoor grilling. I’m not sure if they need to be blanched or not. I’m guessing not, since the high heat of the grill might cook them quickly enough so they steam in their own juices…?
Of course, you’d need a grilling screen, or some way so they wouldn’t fall between the spaces on the grill rack. Or just be careful and line them all up so they are perpendicular to the holes, so they can’t fall in.
The epazote and lime wedge that were with my original dish at Condessa didn’t add so much to the flavor, in my opinion, that they were even necessary. In fact, I served my version (without epazote) to a friend, who agreed that the lime wedges were unnecessary.
But back to my original order… I had a bunch leftover, so I took them back to my hotel room and put them in the mini fridge for the next day’s breakfast. How did I heat them up? Simple–I used the blow drier from the hotel bathroom!
(What’s that adage…necessity is the mother of invention? Well, how about: hunger is the mother of ingenuity!)
Then I sat there licking my fingers and smacking my lips as I savored every last bean. I could eat those every day. Yes, they were that good!
Please let me know if you try these on the grill outside, and whether or not you blanched them, and how they turned out. Bet you can’t eat just one!