I was one of those nightmare children who is a ridiculously picky eater. I could just about manage a couple of carrots or a small helping of cauliflower (so long as it didn't include the stems and was covered with cheese) but, despite my parents' best efforts and countless arguments, I just couldn't bring myself to eat any other vegetables.
I vividly remember one Sunday lunch where I had been promised a strawberry milkshake if I ate all my vegetables. I sat at the table for nearly two hours, long after the rest of the family had got bored with my histrionics, with tears running down my face as I cut my food up into the tiniest of pieces which I then swallowed whole in between sobs. (It therefore, as an aside, came as a complete surprise to my parents when, about a year later, I announced my intention to become a vegetarian. I was quickly disabused of this idea).
Thankfully, I'm a little bit more grown up now. I still wouldn't say that I liked vegetables as much as, say, cake but I am learning to appreciate them. I still don't like cauliflower stems but I can get on board with a plate full of the green stuff now. Especially when said green stuff has been cooked not just in butter but in wine too. Score. It's almost like having a cocktail (maybe).
As utterly bonkers as this may sound, I think part of the reason that I love green beans now is the fact that I love sitting down to top and tail them. Of course, that might have something to do with the view and the glass of wine that is my reward but it's one of those kitchen activities which is strangely soothing. In this super simple dish, green beans are cooked just beyond the point of squeakiness and then quickly sautéed with a knob of butter and a dash of white wine. Some toasted pine nuts are thrown in for good measure.
This recipe comes from my mum which normally means that it's from a cookbook somewhere but that information is, sadly, lost in the mists of time. Although they make an excellent accompaniment to anything really, I think that they would probably be crazy-good as a main dish with some crumbled feta and crusty bread.
Green beans with pine nuts (serves 2)
2 cups green beans
50ml white wine
25g toasted pine nuts*
1. Cook the green beans in boiling water for 4-5 minutes until just cooked.
2. Drain your beans and return them to the saucepan, add the butter, wine and pine nuts and cook over a high heat until the alcohol has burnt off. Serve at once.
* If your pine nuts aren't toasted, heat a small frying pan without any oil and add the pine nuts. Toss them around in the pan a bit and heat for a couple of minutes until they start to brown but haven't yet burnt.