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Versatile & Delicious Green Beans

Updated on June 2, 2010

Plain old green beans don't have the cachet of broccoli rabe or fingerling potatoes, or even their stylishly thin cousins: haricots verts. But as great a personage as Escoffier, the father of French cuisine, called plain old green beans "one of the most exquisite of vegetables."

He's right. They have a delicate, earthy flavor and a hardy crunch, and are inexpensive and available year-round. And an entire pound of green beans has only about 125 calories and a formidable 8 grams of fiber.

When green-bean shopping, look for the smaller size ones, and test for crispness by snapping one in half. Also, test the beans for flavor by eating one.

Green beans will steam to that tender-crispness you've read about in about four or five minutes, but unlike more delicate vegetables, they're also good if you cook them longer. At 12 or 13 minutes, they have a completely different taste, and still retain a vestige of crunch.

If they're fresh when you buy them, green beans will last for up to a week in the refrigerator. Preparing them is a snap - just cut (or snap) off the stem ends. The pointy ends are perfectly edible.

  • Make a casserole with chicken thighs, crushed tomatoes, onions, potatoes, olives, and green beans, and spice it up with anchovy paste.
  • Combine green beans with toasted slivered almonds, butter, and lemon juice.
  • Toss green beans, cooked chicken, pine nuts, and fresh mint with a yogurt dressing.
  • Green beans can stand up to roasting - just toss them in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and put them in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Green beans work well in soup. Use them in minestrone, Manhattan-style chowder, or any broth-based bean soup.
  • For a simple salad, combine cooked green beans with red onion, chopped hard-boiled egg, and a mustard vinaigrette.
  • Serve warm green beans with crumbled bacon and Caesar dressing.
  • Make a fine beef stew with lots of root veggies like parsnips, carrots, celery, turnip, and don't forget the potatoes and sweet potatoes… then add in some cut up fresh green beans. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamazingly good!
  • Don't forget the pickled kind: Use them instead of celery in Bloody Marys.

If you want to try a real green bean treat, and you have a commercial kitchen exhaust vent fan or you're cooking outside, try this: Get a well seasoned cast iron pan. Get it so hot that it's about to start glowing. Toss in a couple of tablespoons of a good quality vegetable oil and immediately throw in your green beans. Just top and tail them, don't cut them up. Get them flipped around quickly so that they just start to get a bit charred. Now toss in an entire bulb of chopped garlic. No I didn't say a clove of garlic I said a whole bulb! Keep flipping until the garlic just barely starts to get translucent or golden. Shower with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and get ready for a taste sensation!

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