Green Beans: A staple on the summertime plate

Chef Babz Goldman
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For a lot of area vegetable gardeners, the flavors of the season haven’t been growing a bit like last summer. One veggie that seems to never string us along, is consistently the green bean. Although some summers a little stringier than others, this delicious bean always has folks shaping and cracking.

My family moved back to Maysville the summer of 1990 from Kansas City, Missouri. Although we knew a lot of farmers in Missouri, I don’t really recall eating fresh from the garden. All of that changed when we came to the river valley. I remember coming down my grandmother’s tall back steps just in time to see an old man taking large wooden baskets out of his truck. Maybe basket isn’t the proper term though, because they were about three feet wide by 3 feet tall, and filled to the brim with green beans. I’d never seen beans like this before and had no clue what we would do with them or who this man was.

Well this stranger was no stranger to my family. A patient of my grandfather, this kind farmer had been bringing my grandmother veggies since the 1950s. Mr. Hawthorne was tall and skinny, like a bean. He smiled ear to ear and told me my grandfather had changed his life. Mr.Hawthorne later became a patient of my mothers and continued bringing us fresh produce, but especially green beans, up until near the time of us death. I had already gone away to college by then and clearly remember the empty summer our hearts and stomachs felt.

Like many of you reading today, some of my favorite summer memories have been sitting on the porch snapping green beans. I’d usually snap with my grandmother Nan-Nan, her feeble wrinkly hands moving at twice the pace mine did. Even the summer before her death, we were still snapping beans and she was still leaving me in her green bean dust.

A staple on the summertime plate, fresh green beans taste like home to me. I’ve included a few traditional and non traditional ways to eat green beans in todays article. One of my favorite aspects of green beans, most everybody likes them. They are always great for potlucks, leftovers, a quick fix, or just a meal of veggies. The sesame green beans are probably my favorite, and add a different crunch to your plate. Give them all a whirl and see which is your favorite.

Good luck and enjoy!

Green Bean Facts:

Season: All year. But best harvested when they are young, before strings form. Look for: Crisp, tender, long beans without scars.

To prepare: Rinse in cold water. Snap off ends so that string connecting ends comes off with stem end. Leave whole or snap into bite sized pieces. To cook: Allow 1 cup per side dish. Always cook in an uncovered pan to prevent beans from going yellow. The proportions are 4 cups of water per 1 1/2 cups beans and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. For al dente beans, simmer for 10 minutes; for very tender beans, simmer for 15-20 minutes. Do not overcook or they will become mushy.

Garlic Fried Green Beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Heat a 12 inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add oil, beans and sauté for 15 minutes or until slightly caramelized and crusty. Don’t burn, so stir frequently. Reduce heat and add garlic. Cook for two more minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Also delicious on a salad.

Parmesan Green Beans

Serves 4/Preheat oven to 350

Butter for greasing

5 2/3 cups green beans, trimmed

3 eggs

5 tablespoons milk

1 heaping cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated is best

salt and pepper to taste

Grease an ovenproof dish with butter. Cook beans in boiling, salted water for 15 minutes. Drain and place in greased dish. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, milk, Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Pour the mix over the beans and bake until just set (Check after 10 minutes. May need another 5-10.) Serve immediately.

Sesame Green Beans

Serves 4

4 1/2 cups green beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons butter

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 lemon, strained juice and grated rind

2 tablespoon sesame seeds

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

salt and pepper, to taste

In boiling water, cook beans for ten minutes, drain and set aside. Melt butter in a pan on low heat. Add scallions, stirring occasionally, until butter is softened (about five minutes). Stir lemon juice and rind, add beans and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for ten more minutes. White beans cook, in a small frying pan on low heat, dry fry the sesame seeds for about 2 minutes or until they begin to smell toasted and look toasted. Transfer beans to a warm serving dish. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with oil. Mix and serve immediately. Also delicious served chilled.

Creamed Green Beans

1/2 cup onion, finely sliced

1 tablespoon parsley, minced

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon lemon peel, grated

1 cup sour cream

5 cups green beans, cooked and drained

1/2 cup mushrooms, sautéed

1/2 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

1/2 cup bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Cook onion and parsley in butter until tender, but not brown. Add flour, salt, pepper and lemon peel. Add sour cream and mix well. Stir in beans and mushrooms. Place in a 7×11 inch casserole. Top with grated cheese. Combine bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle mix on top of green beans. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

The photo and recipe used in todays article are from the kitchen of Chef Babz ([email protected]) with a little help from The Silver Spoon, Editoriale Domus, 1997 and The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, Zoe Cousin, 1973.

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Chef Babz Goldman