2) Trim the stem end off the French beans. Peel and finely chop the shallot.
3) Drop the French beans into the boiling water and cook, uncovered for about 4 minutes, until crisp but tender. Drain in a colander and rinse with very cold water until cool. Drain well and pat dry with kitchen towel. (The vegetables can be prepared up to this point, up to 4 hours ahead.)
4) Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes, until just golden.
5) Add the French beans, increase the heat to high, and cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes, until the beans are heated through. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.