These sautéed green beans and spinach with bread crumbs make an easy side that combines gently wilted spinach and tender green beans with the easy extravagance of cheesy, garlic bread crumbs.
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
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.
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.
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.
Prefer a little less indulgence? Go ahead and hold back some—or, heck, all—of the cheesy bread crumb loveliness.