Although green beans are available almost all year round, they’re at their peak in the northeast. When purchasing green beans look for beans that are tender, long and firm. They should “snap” when broken. I prefer a two step process when cooking green beans. The first step is blanching, which is a quick dip of about 3-4 minutes in rapidly boiling salted water. Step two is placing the green beans into an icy water bath to halt the cooking process. Blanching ensures that the beans maintain their color and crisp texture. It will preserve some of the nutrients as well. These green beans are addictive especially with a sprinkle of sea salt and a splash of vinegar.
Place the green beans in a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook the green beans until just crisp and a bit tender, about 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or small spider strainer remove the green beans from the boiling water and place into a bowl of cold water filled with ice cubes for a couple of minutes. Drain the green beans and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic slivers and cook for about a minute and then add the red pepper flakes, if using, and cook for another minute. Add the blanched green beans and cook until tender, about 5-8 minutes. Season the green beans with salt and pepper. Add a splash of sherry vinegar and stir for another minute or two. Serve hot or at room temperature.