Thursday, September 2, 2010

Green Bean Summers

I'm going to admit to a dirty little secret. I'm not crazy about green beans in general. That's probably because when I was growing up we ate way too many canned green beans (actually I tried to dodge them). I don't really like the taste of most canned veggies but green beans are the worst. Correction, canned beets are the worst.

But now we are in the Golden Age of local fresh fruits and veggies, often grown in our own back yards, and available at the farmers' markets. And that has changed my bad opinion of that noble bean. My favorite green beans are the Italian baccaccia beans. Unlike blue lakes, the pods are flatter and the peas inside bulge outward. Very distinctive, delicious, and available at farmers' markets.

Currently I love to braise my beans in chopped fresh ripe tomatoes, garlic, seasoning and chicken broth. It takes about 20 minutes based on how tender you want them. Just coarsely chop a couple of medium sized tomatoes and throw in a pan over medium heat. Add a couple or so mashed and chopped cloves of garlic, along with some red pepper flakes for a little heat. Take 2 or 3 big handsful of beans, rinse and snap off the twiggy ends and mound them in your pan. Salt and pepper to taste - raw beans taste flat, so don't be coy with the salt. Add reduced sodium chicken broth to about half way up the beans. Cover, reduce heat somewhat and let braise. Check to make sure you don't run out of liquid and burn the batch! Add some fresh basil near the end if desired.

This is really loosey goosey cooking. Try adding sliced mushrooms, crisp bacon or pancetta, or Italian seasoning. How about some white wine or wine vinegar? I don't use oil but you can throw in some delicious olive oil.

Recently I was talking to an acquaintance in line at the supermarket and she told me she adds potatoes to her green beans. I forgot the rest of what she said but I cubed some potatoes and threw them in and they were delicious. They take longer than beans to cook so give them a few minutes head start before adding the beans.

Now, I want to know what delicious ways you cook fresh green beans. Type it in the comment section at the end of this article and not in Facebook; you will have to go to the blog page if you aren't already there. Tell me your bean story. I really want to know.

1 comment:

  1. This is from Phyllis:
    I would really enjoy an article on goat and sheep cheeses. I am really hooked on them...not Feta either. I love strong cheeses and they go so well with fruit. I rarely cook with them but have one oz a day at breakfast or lunch...(rarely both but I could!)

    I have some favorites that I purchase at TJ's and my next favorites come from the big deli in Napa next to the now non-existent COPIA ...Oxbow? Can't recall it's name but I know how to get there! When we're that close, we have to visit Larry's Produce in Fairfield. Best produce on the planet and sooo reasonable!