Smoky Spanish Green Beans with Garlic and Jamón

As a 15-year-old exchange student living in Madrid, I couldn’t imagine anything less thrilling than the words “green beans for dinner,” but there I was at my host mom’s table—a fork in one hand, a napkin wherein to spit in the other—bracing for another round of culinary culture shock.


    • ¼ cup kosher salt, plus more to taste
    • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
    • 4 garlic cloves, sliced ⅛ in. thick
    • 3½ oz. serrano ham or prosciutto, preferably in one slice, finely chopped
    • 2 tsp. pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika), plus more for garnish
    • 2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
    • 1½ lb. romano or green beans, fresh or frozen (see footnote)
    • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

    Benjamin Kemper


  1. Fill a large pot two-thirds full with water and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and salt and boil until soft (past al dente), about 20 minutes. Drain, then set aside in the colander.
  2. Wipe out the pot and return it to the stove. Add the oil and garlic and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook until deep golden, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat to medium, add the ham, and cook until fragrant and opaque, about 1 minute. Stir in the pimentón, cook for 30 seconds, then add the vinegar and cook until reduced slightly, about 2 minutes more. Turn off the heat.
  3. Add the beans back to the pot and stir to combine. Add the lemon juice and additional vinegar and salt to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature, drizzled with more oil and dusted lightly with pimentón.
  4. Note: If using fresh beans, slice or snap off the stem ends, then cut into 1½-inch pieces.

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