Once a month I get together with a great group of friends to play Pokeno, a game of chance most closely related to Bingo. We take turns playing hostess, which means cooking the main course, and everyone else brings salad, side dishes and dessert. And, of course, a gift for the prize pile. There is laughter and drink and sharing of secrets and home-cooked favorites. This month it is my turn to host but I have no idea what to make. So I thought I’d share the side dish I brought to Pokeno last month.
1 generous handful of green beans per person
1 slice of streaky bacon per person
1-2 cloves of garlic (or more, depending on how many beans you are cooking)
Preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C.
Put a pot of water on to boil, adding some salt. Cut the ends off of the green beans and pop them in the boiling water. Cook for three minutes.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Drain the green beans and plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking.
Once they are cool, drain again in a colander.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon gently over a low heat, in a non-stick skillet. You want it still limp enough to bend comfortably.
Slice the garlic as thinly as you can.
Lay the bacon out in the baking tray and put one good handful of green beans on each slice. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and slice of garlic and wrap the bacon up and around the beans, overlapping the ends and securing them with a toothpick.
Drizzle the parcels with a little olive oil.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes or until the bacon is a little bit crispy. Use a flat metal spatula to remove the parcels to a serving platter.
Alternative parcels for vegetarians or Muslims (A couple of people I love dearly belong to each of those groups so I make sure to cater for them as well.) Substitute shaved Parmesan for the bacon and use green onion tops to tie up the beans. Don’t forget to include the garlic sliver!