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Matt Molina of Hippo in Highland Park makes perfect green beans

A plate of charred green beans with hazelnuts, scallions and serrano chiles.
Green beans cook in minutes when charred in a skillet.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Culinary SOS

I’m completely obsessed with those green beans at Hippo. I know it has beans and nuts and serrano chiles, but I suspect that the “Frenchie dressing” is what puts these beans over the top. My attempts at reverse engineering this dish have been futile. Please help! I could just eat these for dinner any night and be happy.

-Amy Seidenwurm, Silver Lake

***

These green beans from chef Matt Molina, a Nancy Silverton protégé who worked at Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza and Campanile, pack so many layers of textures and flavors. The green beans get seared hard in a skillet, giving them a deep smoky taste in minutes. The whole batch is good enough to eat just like that, but they’re even better with other goodies that add spicy heat, onion-y freshness and nutty crunch. The Frenchie dressing ties all those elements together and makes any salad better, so we’re giving you a bigger batch of that recipe to keep in the fridge for instant restaurant-worthy weeknight meals.

Charred Green Beans with Hazelnuts and Serrano Chiles
These are satisfying enough to serve as a meal on their own.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
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Charred Green Beans with Hazelnuts and Serrano Chile

20 minutes. Serves 4.

At Hippo, Matt Molina uses a mix of string beans he gets from local farmers. You can do the same or just stick with haricots verts, which are thin French green beans. They’re readily available in supermarkets and often come pre-trimmed, making this dish even quicker to throw together. You can buy hazelnuts that come roasted and skinned, or do it yourself: Toast the nuts in a 350-degree oven for 12 minutes, then wrap the nuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. To crisp up raw scallions and soften their bite, Molina puts them in a small salad spinner and covers with ice-cold water. After letting them crisp for a few minutes, he lifts them out, shakes off excess water and spins them dry. You can try this trick or use our method below.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound string beans, preferably a mix of wax beans, haricots verts and dragon tongue beans, stem ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • 3 scallions, cut in 3-inch lengths and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • ⅓ cup roasted and skinned hazelnuts
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 serrano chile, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Frenchie dressing, plus more
  • 1 teaspoon minced chives

Instructions

  1. If you’re using different varieties of beans, divide them among different bowls and divide the oil and salt among the bowls. (You can use just one large bowl if you’re using only one varietal.) Toss the beans with the oil and salt until evenly coated. Heat a griddle or two large skillets over high heat. (Work in batches if using one varietal, and work by type if using multiple varietals.)
  2. When the surface is smoking hot, spread the beans in an even layer on the griddle or in the skillets and add another drizzle of oil (about a teaspoon per skillet or a tablespoon for the whole batch). When the bottoms brown and blister, toss the beans and continue cooking, tossing occasionally, until there’s a nice char on the beans but they still have a little bite, 3 to 5 minutes. Thinner beans will brown more quickly, so pull them from the heat first. As the batches of beans cook, transfer them to a plate to continue cooking the remaining beans. Once the last batch is done, remove them from the heat, return all the beans to the skillet and let them soften in the residual heat, about 7 minutes.
  3. While the beans rest, soak the scallions in a medium bowl of ice water until crisp, about 5 minutes, then lift out and gently pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Put the hazelnuts on a cutting board and crush with a heavy skillet or the flat side of a knife until they crack into smaller pieces. On the board, drizzle the nuts with ½ teaspoon olive oil, sprinkle with ⅛ teaspoon salt and toss until evenly coated. Transfer two-thirds to a bowl and add the beans, scallions and lemon juice to the bowl and toss well. Add the chile and dressing and toss again. Taste and add more dressing if you’d like. Transfer to serving plates, top with the chives and remaining hazelnuts, and serve immediately.

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