Let me just say this upfront: Ina Garten has never let me down. So when it came time to test some of the most popular Thanksgiving recipes on the internet — which we're doing on Kitchn all month long — I knew I had to include some Ina recipes in that lineup. First up? Her take on a Thanksgiving day staple: green beans.
Ina's version is green beans gremolata. That might sound fancy, but gremolata is really just an herb condiment (or, in this case, a topping for the green beans) that's made with stuff like lemon zest, parsley, and garlic. Compared to the other famous green bean recipes I tested (here's Ree Drummond's and Alton Brown's), Ina's version was the fastest to make — clocking in at only 20 minutes. Still, I was curious: Could it hold its own at the table? And, more importantly, Would Jeffrey approve? Here's what I found out.
How to Make Ina Garten's Green Beans
Like most Ina recipes, this one is pretty straightforward. You just boil, blanch, and drain green beans — then you make the gremolata topping by combining garlic, lemon zest, parsley, grated Parmesan, and toasted pine nuts.
After that, it's just a matter of assembly. Sauté the beans in a bit of olive oil, stir in the gremolata, season with salt and pepper, and serve. As Ina would say: How easy is that?
What I Thought of the Results
I half expected Ina's green beans to be the fussiest of the bunch, but they ended up being the easiest. They also looked the most impressive and tasted the best — the garlicky gremolata made them downright irresistible. Also, since the gremolata gets tossed in at the very end, it added freshness to the cooked beans; there was a nice pop of bright flavor from the lemon zest and parsley. This sealed the deal for me, because something fresh (to balance out all the other heavy, rich food at the table) is what I look for in a Thanksgiving side.
The recipe did require a different few pots and pans since the beans were blanched then sautéed, but there are so many make-ahead opportunities here (more on that below), that it didn't actually bother me. These green beans also were super quick to make: The recipe noted total time from start to finish as 20 minutes, and it was spot on. Overall, I loved everything about this recipe.
If You Make Ina's Green Beans Gremolata ...
1. You can make pretty much everything ahead of time.
The blanched green beans and the gremolata can both be made the day before and stored separately in the fridge. On Thanksgiving, you just need to heat some olive oil in a skillet, sauté and warm up the beans, toss them with the gremolata, and serve. It all happens so fast — you can do this as guests are taking their seats at the table.
2. The pine nuts can easily be substituted.
Pine nuts aren't cheap. While they're great here and add a nice buttery touch, they can definitely be swapped out for sliced or slivered almonds (making the dish reminiscent of green beans almondine). Just be sure to toast them to ensure you get that warm, nutty flavor.
Overall Rating: 10 out of 10
Not only do I plan to make these green beans for Thanksgiving, but I also plan to make them again and again all year long. Hail to the queen.
Get the recipe: Ina Garten's Green Beans Gremolata
Thanksgiving is the ultimate food holiday, and when it comes to stand-out dishes, everyone has their favorites. This year we decided to put some of the internet's most popular Thanksgiving recipes — from Alton Brown, Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, and Ree Drummond — to the test in our own kitchens.