From Chelsea Rinnig. Email her at chelsea[AT}borderstan.com
String beans have never been the obvious choice as a main course for me. Most encounters I have had with green beans were usually a simple sauté at Thanksgiving, or the boiled-to-death beans I nudged around my plate as a child whenever my parents served them with dinner.
Don’t even get me started on the briny green beans from a can, not only are they laden with chemical additives, but their taste and texture is entirely unpalatable (though, admittedly, frozen and canned green beans do retain the majority of their nutritional value).
Market fresh string beans, on the other hand, have turned my impression of the vegetable entirely around. They are crunchy and sweet, plump with wholesome minerals, antioxidants and, surprisingly, cartenoids. I could eat string beans raw and be perfectly happy, but after spontaneously picking up almost a pound of yellow wax beans at the market last Sunday, I decided it was time to start incorporating them into my main dishes and start mixing it up a bit!
Yellow and Green Options
Whether French or string, yellow or green, here are a few options on how to prepare long beans:
- Poach yellow beans for two minutes and plunge in cold water. Toss with your favorite basil or other pesto type recipe and serve with cooked pasta.
- Stir fry beans in curry paste or soy sauce alongside onions, chili peppers (or red pepper flakes) and bell peppers. Serve over a bed of cooked brown rice.
- Roast at 375°F for 15-20 minutes in olive oil, garlic or shallots and your choice of nuts. I’ve used almonds, walnuts, pine nuts and hazelnuts, but I’m sure almost any would be great. In my research for this article, I saw one recipe that roasted with peanuts and soy sauce. This is a classic crowd pleaser, as the earthiness of the nuts balances the sweetness of the beans very well.
- A simple salad: spinach, long beans, thinly sliced red onion and blueberries. Colorful, fresh, and incredibly healthy.
For lunch, I took a salad Niçoise-type approach that was bright, lovely and summery. I poached the yellow beans briefly, but not so much as to lose their crunch. I assembled a salad with fresh Red Oak Leaf lettuce, a hard-boiled egg, Roma tomato, pecans, sardines, wax beans and a dressing of basil, white wine vinegar, olive oil and Dijon mustard. Note: a traditional Salad Niçoise has black olives and canned tuna and I think they would be great additions for those who prefer!
I never realized how versatile green beans actually are until I started writing about them. Does anyone have memories like mine that have been turned around by creative green bean recipes? If so, please share them!