If you can track down local spinach and summer beans from late-summer farmers markets, explains the author of this recipe, what you end up with is sufficiently sweet and flavorful that the ingredients beg little embellishment. Just some simple bread crumbs inflected with cheese and garlic and lemon will suffice quite nicely, thank you very much.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Can I make this recipe and skip the bread crumbs?
Of course you can. The health-conscious, the gluten-free, the dairy-averse, the vegans, and the lazy may opt to omit them altogether and just revel in the greenness of the side dish.
Sautéed Green Beans and Spinach with Bread Crumbs
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 4 garlic cloves (2 grated or minced and 2 smashed)
- Grated zest of 1 lemon, preferably organic
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes, or more to taste
- Sea salt
- 12 ounces summer beans, thick ones halved lengthwise
- 1 bunch or bag (5 to 10 oz) spinach
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
- Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
- In a large skillet over medium heat, warm 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the anchovies and cook, stirring frequently, until the anchovies dissolve, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the bread crumbs and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the crumbs are golden, 3 to 5 minutes more.
- Stir in the grated or minced garlic, lemon zest, and up to the full amount of chile flakes and cook, still stirring quite a lot, for 1 minute.
- Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and season them ever so slightly with salt. Wipe out the skillet.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 1/2 tablespoons oil and the smashed garlic. Add the beans and cook, stirring frequently, until still a little crisp but almost tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the beans to a large platter.
☞ TESTER TIP: If your beans are on the larger, firmer side, you may want to add 1/3 cup of stock, white wine, or water to the skillet to help them achieve the desired tenderness without overcooking the outer portions.
- Add the spinach to the skillet, and cook, stirring frequently, until bright green and just wilted, about 1 minute.
- Transfer the spinach to the platter with the beans and top with the bread crumbs and cheese. If desired, serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing.
☞ TESTER TIP: Prefer a little less indulgence? Go ahead and hold back some—or, heck, all—of the cheesy bread crumb loveliness.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This summer salad was fantastic! Not only was the flavor well balanced but we got to combine two veggies from our garden into one impressive side dish. The addition of the crunchy pangrattato on top of the spinach and bean saute was both unique and super flavorful.
I love using anchovies in dishes because they give such a depth of flavor and a perfect saltiness to whatever is on hand. My only comment is I thought it needed a touch of liquid in the pan to help nudge the beans along to crisp-tender. I would suggest adding 1/3 cup of stock, water, or wine to the pan after you’ve sauteed the beans for the recommended 2 minutes and then cook them for another couple of minutes.
In terms of the recipe itself, my lemon was large so my grated zest measured in at 2 tablespoons. I used green beans from my garden, which were a bit larger than haricots verts, so I did cut them in half lengthwise. (I love the idea of using a mixture of yellow wax beans and green beans in this salad for color, but alas, I couldn’t get my hands on wax beans.)
I used 10 ounces of fresh spinach and it wilted down nicely.
Overall, we loved the different textures of this salad and the flavors. The anchovy-infused bread crumbs were a lovely touch, and the Parmesan, chile, flakes, and lemon zest really rounded out the flavors of the entire dish.
Oh my gosh, what a wonderful side dish using fresh summer produce! The taste was so yummy that after finishing my first serving, I went back for a second serving.
The only thing I would change is to make less bread crumb mixture (try cutting by half) as I felt it was too much.
The grated zest from the smaller sized lemon I had on hand was 1 teaspoon. I grated as much as I could (without cutting up my hands) of the 2 cloves that need to be grated and then finely diced the remainder of these cloves.
I used a combination of wax beans and green beans.
I didn’t season the bread crumbs with salt as I’m being careful with my salt intake. The beans were bright and crisp-tender after cooking for 2 minutes. The spinach was wilted but not totally cooked at 1 minute. I did season the vegetables with salt and pepper after cooking.
This makes 4 nice-size side dish servings along with baked salmon.