I have to admit, I get a bit over-excited about holiday cooking. I usually spend several months before Thanksgiving and Christmas planning my menu, trying to find new ways to express old traditions, and generally annoying my family with questions about vegetables, baking, and where we should go to buy the ingredients. This Thanksgiving, I'd planned to do a side dish I found in a magazine...but it struck me that the summery, Mediterranean flavors in this dish wouldn't really go well with a traditional winter holiday meal, so I sidelined the recipe for future experimentation.
Well, then - Sparky needed a cooking project, and I needed a vegetable side dish for the holidays, so we got to work on the flavors of this dish and headed to the kitchen.
The original recipe uses two ingredients I associate with summer cooking: lemon and capers. We needed to replace these bright flavors with something a bit more wintery, and I realized we had two equally bright ingredients in our winter pantry: oranges (in our case, clementines, a staple in Sparky's diet) and raw cranberries.
1/2 lb fresh green beans
6 oz frozen artichokes (usually half a bag)
1/4 cup raw cranberries
1-2 tbsp raw sugar
1 fresh orange or 2-3 clementines
3 tbsp EVOO (Extra-Virgin Olive Oil)
2 cloves of garlic
Salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
This dish involves a bit of prep work, but comes together very quickly, once the ingredients are ready to go.
I set Sparky to trimming the ends off the green beans. He zested and juiced the clementines while I cut the garlic in paper-thin slices. We cut the cranberries into slices, and then tossed them with the sugar and set them aside.
I heated our large cast-iron skillet and added the olive oil. When it came to temperature, we added the artichokes and let them caramelize for a few minutes before adding the green beans, garlic, salt, and the juice from the clementines.
We covered the pan and allowed this to steam for 5 minutes or so while we shook the excess sugar off the cranberries, then we added them with the orange zest and stir-fried it all together for 2 minutes, until the cranberries were bright red and the beans were crisp and tender.
The result is a beautiful side dish that will brighten up any holiday table. Enjoy!