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Anchovies add rich, salty flavor to green beans

Rather than stay in Washington, President George W. Bush and family preferred to spend Thanksgiving with old friends in Texas. This dish was a mainstay on the holiday table. People who don’t think they like anchovies might not even realize the little fish are in there – but they’ll pick up on the rich, salty taste they can’t quite put their finger on.

The recipe doubles easily.

We’ve customized it with our own garnish, a crumble of crisped quinoa from a recipe by Tracy O’Grady of Willow in Arlington, Va. You could also use chopped nuts, diced hard-cooked egg or other favorite garnish.

Laura Bush’s Green Beans with Anchovy Butter

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 or 4 anchovy fillets, rinsed, well-drained and finely chopped

2 pounds green beans, trimmed

1 cup crisped quinoa, for garnish (see Note)

Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the anchovies (to taste) and cook, stirring, until the anchovies fall apart and the mixture turns into a smooth paste, about 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Have ready a large bowl of ice water.

Bring an inch of water to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Set a steamer basket in the pot, add the beans, cover the pot and steam for 7 to 10 minutes or until the beans are just tender. (Depending on the size of your pot, you might have to do this in two batches.) Immediately transfer the beans to the ice water to cool rapidly.

At this point, if desired, you can pat the beans dry, wrap them in paper towels, then place them in plastic bags and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, return the beans to the large pot over low heat. (If they have been refrigerated, let them sit at room temperature for a half-hour or so.) Add the anchovy butter and use tongs to toss the beans for 1 to 2 minutes or until the beans are warmed and evenly coated in the butter. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and serve right away, with fried quinoa passed on the side, if desired.

Serves 8.

Note: To make crisped quinoa, combine 1 cup of cooked, cooled quinoa with 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a bowl and use your fingers to rub the oil onto the quinoa, breaking up any clumps. Spread the quinoa on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake in a 300-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and watching to make sure the quinoa does not burn. Drain on paper towels and use more towels to blot off some of the oil. Serve at room temperature.

(Adapted from a recipe in the New York Times of Nov. 14, 2001.)

Per serving: 60 calories, 3g protein, 8g carbohydrates, 3g fat, 2g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 60mg sodium, 4g dietary fiber, 2g sugar.