Green beans are in season now, so walk past the canned goods section and start cooking fresh green beans.
Bean There Done That
Green beans go by many names. They are called green beans in America, French beans in England, and haricots verts in France. You can sometimes find them sold by the names string beans or snap beans. But they are all basically the same bean. Green beans are any variation on the yardlong bean, the hyacinth bean, or the common bean. They are long, slender, green beans that are usually slightly sweet. They are prepared by sorting through the beans and discarding any that look old, wrinkled, or are soft. You want to look for beans that are firm and are resistant to bending. They should snap when you try to bend them.
Once you have sorted through your beans, you then need to remove the stem, which you can do by either snapping or cutting it off. I like to give the beans a quick rinse in cold water just to remove any dust or dirt that may be on them.
Simple Is Best
When cooking fresh green beans, or any fresh vegetables for that matter, you will get the best results by keeping the cooking process simple and quick. Overcooked vegetables are unappetizing because they tend to turn to mush. They are also not as good for you because the more you cook vegetables, the more vitamins and nutrients you lose.
Cooking Fresh Green Beans
The easiest way to cook fresh green beans is to blanch and shock them.
- 1 ½ pounds of green beans stemmed and washed
- 2 quarts (8 cups) of water, minimum
- Salt (about 2 tablespoons)
- A large bowl of ice water
- Place the bowl of ice water as close to the stove as you can.
- Bring the 2 quarts of water to a boil.
- Add the salt and taste the water, it should taste rather salty.
- Add the green beans to the boiling water and let them boil for about a minute.
- Test one of the beans by tasting it. The bean should be firm to the tooth (al dente) but not so firm that it feels raw. The bean should droop slightly when you take it out of the water.
- Now that the beans are cooked, we want to stop them from cooking any further. Use a slotted spoon, a spider, or a pair of tongs to remove the beans from the boiling water and drop them into the ice water.
- Let the beans sit in the water until they are completely cooled.
- Once they are cooled, remove them from the ice water or they will get water logged.
- Your beans are now done.
- Set them aside and finish cooking the rest of your dinner.
If you want to serve them warm, you can dunk them briefly into the boiling water again before plating them.
Green Bean Salad
Now you can take your green beans and make them into a refreshing cold salad.
- 1 ½ pounds of blanched and shocked green beans
- 6 tablespoons of chopped, toasted pecans
- 6 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley
- ½ a red onion finely diced
- 6 teaspoons of olive oil
- 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mix together the parsley, pecans, and onion.
- In another bowl, whisk the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard.
- Toss the green beans with the dressing.
- Add the mixed parsley, pecans, and onion.
- Add salt and pepper and taste.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Sautéed Green Beans
Fresh green beans can go right from the skillet to the plate using this sautéing method.
- 2 cups of trimmed and rinsed green beans
- 2 tablespoons of butter or vegetable oil
- ¼ cup of pine nuts or sliced almonds
- Salt and pepper
- Place a large pan over a medium flame.
- Once the pan becomes hot, add the oil or butter.
- Let the butter melt or, if using oil, wait a minute or two until the oil becomes hot.
- Add the green beans and the nuts.
- Toss to coat the beans and nuts with the oil.
- Add a little salt and pepper and continue to toss the green beans until they are tender and warm.
- Serve immediately.