So often on Chopped we see chef contestants open their mystery baskets to find such odd, uncommon and downright scary ingredients — pre-cooked pig snout, pickled beef tongue or grasshoppers, anyone? — that it can seem nearly impossible for home cooks to put them to work in everyday meals. On other episodes, however, the ingredients are far less intimidating yet not quite familiar. That’s where we come in. Each week during the brand-new season of Chopped Champions, FN Dish will break down the whats, hows and whens of an approachable, family-friendly ingredient and share deliciously simple recipes for using it, so that you can show off your best culinary chops at home. Following last Tuesday’s round-three competition, the focus is now on haricot verts, which made an appearance in the appetizer basket alongside smoked eel, cream cheese spread and quince paste.
While haricot verts sounds fancy, it actually translates to something we all know and enjoy: green beans. These French string beans are similar in color and shape to their American cousins, but they’re longer and slimmer, are slightly more tender and boast a more robust flavor than the standard variety. They stand up well to a host of cooking techniques including boiling, roasting and grilling, and because they’re so thin, haricot verts can be cooked in mere minutes. Just as the Chopped Champions chefs demonstrated in dressing their haricot verts with the cream cheese spread or a light vinaigrette, these green beans pair well with a mix of tastes and textures, though they can surely be enjoyed with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of seasonings. If you’ve never cooked with haricot verts before, pick up some at the grocery store (they’re found in the produce aisle near the standard green beans), then try them out in the easy recipes below, each ready in just 30 minutes or fewer.