Ever since I was a young child, I've eaten cooked vegetables by pouring vinegar on them. Green beans, spinach, broccoli - I'm not fond of them plain, but pour vinegar on them and I'm good to go. It's earned me some strange looks over the years, but I persevere. That quirk is the origin of the following:
Mediterranean green beans in butter-vinegar sauce.
1 lb. of fresh green beans (string beans or snap beans, if you prefer)
1/2 lb. dates. Ideally, these should be Mediterranean style: whole, moist, and chewy, not dry and hard.
1/4 lb. slivered almonds
Cut the stringy ends off the beans. I like to use diagonal cuts. Especially long ones can be cut in half, so that the segments are about an inch long or so.
Cut the dates into long quarters, removing pits if necessary.
Steam the beans in a steamer for about 10 minutes. Add about a tablespoon of clear vinegar or rice vinegar to the water. If you don't have a purpose built steamer, you can fill a largish saucepan with water and the vinegar, and load the beans into a colander or bowl-shaped strainer that sits in the saucepan above the water level. Cover with a large pan lid.
Beans should be steamed until they reach a dark green color, but should still be fairly firm. When done, toss them in a bowl or serving dish with the dates and almonds.
Butter vinegar sauce
Melt 1/2 cup unsalted butter [I've never tried this with margarine. I'm not sure it would work.]
Stir in 1/2 cup good quality red wine vinegar. If you're cooking other dishes with red wine, add a dash of that. Add 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of tarragon, and a pinch of paprika.
Simmer and keep stirring. The dish will give off a strong sour smell - this is the acid in the vinegar evaporating.* You'll want the vinegar to reduce by about a third or so.
Pour the sauce over the tossed beans. Alternately, serve the sauce in a separate bowl with a spoon for stirring. This sauce will tend to separate, so you'll want to stir it before spooning or pouring. It will also thicken as it cools, so it's best to move it directly from the stovetop to the table right before eating.
* Interesting fact: if you reduce vinegar by about 1/2, you'll get a thick, fruity sauce that's only mildly tart. Balsamic vinegar will render a sauce that's actually quite sweet. This is good for roasted meats and fowl.
Googlebombing for a cause: www.minnesotangos.org