Beans, green

Beans, green

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

‘Green beans’ is the general term for beans with edible pods. There is a great variety on the market – they actually come in colours ranging from deep green and purple to pale yellow. The main types are French beans and runner or pole beans. French beans include snap beans, which are fleshy and should snap in half juicily if they are fresh, and yellow wax beans. Runner beans grow on a climbing vine. Often the pods are purple but turn green on cooking.

Snake beans are long, thin and dark green. They are delicious served hot; boil, drain well then toss in melted butter. Or serve them in a green salad: blanch in boiling water then rinse in cold water and drain well.

Buy beans as you need them. Store in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator and use within 2–3 days while they are still crisp and fresh.

Basic preparation: Many beans are now stringless but some types still need stringing. Young, small beans are nicest cooked whole; larger beans may be snapped in half or sliced in diagonal lengths. Top and tail, if preferred.

To cook: Wash beans in cold water, then drop into a small amount of boiling, salted water – just enough to cover. Simmer without a lid for 6–15 minutes, depending on size and type, until they are tender but still a little crisp. Be careful not to overcook. Drain in a colander and, if not required immediately, plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process. Beans may then stand for an hour or more before finishing.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

  1. Buttered green beans: Prepare, cook and drain 750 g green beans. Place in a large pan and shake over high heat while adding 2 tablespoons butter, bit by bit. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serves 4–6.
  2. Green beans amandine: Prepare, cook and drain 750 g green beans. Melt 1–2 tablespoons butter in a large pan, add 2 tablespoons slivered almonds and toss until golden. Add beans, toss gently together and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serves 4–6.
  3. Green beans with onion: Prepare, cook and drain 750 g green beans. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pan, add a finely chopped onion and cook until golden. Add the beans and shake pan over high heat to mix beans and onions. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serves 4–6.
  4. Green beans paysanne: Prepare, cook and drain 750 g green beans. Cook 2 diced rindless rashers bacon in a large pan. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 finely chopped onions to the pan and cook until onion is soft. Add 2 peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes and, if liked, 1 cup diced potato. Add beans, bacon and 125 ml water and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Serves 4–6.
  5. Green beans with mustard vinaigrette: Prepare, cook and drain 750 g green beans. Mix 2 teaspoons French mustard, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons vinegar, 1 small clove garlic, crushed, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Toss beans gently in dressing, place in a chilled serving dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve cold.
  6. Green beans smitane: Prepare, cook and drain 750 g green beans. Place in a large pan and stir in 125 g sour cream mixed with 1 teaspoon flour and 1 teaspoon each finely chopped parsley, chives and dill. Heat gently for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  7. Spiced green beans: Wash and trim 750 g green beans, and cut into 4 cm lengths. Combine 1 teaspoon salt, 2 cloves garlic, crushed, 2 slices fresh ginger and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a small bowl and add cayenne to taste. Heat 80 ml oil in a frying pan, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and fry a few seconds. Add beans and stir for 1 minute. Add garlic mixture, cover pan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes or until beans are just tender, stirring occasionally. Remove cover, increase heat and stir constantly until liquid has evaporated.
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