If you happen to live in an area where green beans grow abundantly and are ubiquitously available, as I do, then you will know how flavourful they are when fresh, and how they make an easy and delightful staple of summertime cooking.
What follows is a basic recipe for preparing fresh green beans, and a few easy variations.Feel free to experiment with your own ideas and additions.When green beans are fresh, it is preferable to prepare them as simply as possible; therefore, none of these recipes include heavy cream sauces or cheeses.
However, if beans are out of season or you are using the frozen variety, a little more dressing might be appropriate; béchamel sauce and grated gruyere cheese to make a gratin, mushrooms, or bacon are just some of the many possibilities. You can also add a tablespoon of butter to the olive oil when sautéing the beans, for a little added flavour.
Basic Sautéed Green Beans
You will need:
- fresh green beans, ½ – 1 lbs.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp minced onion
- salt and pepper, to taste
Fill a large pot with water, and bring it to a boil.While it is heating prepare the green beans for cooking.I like to do so by simply snapping off both ends and leaving the beans whole.If you prefer smaller pieces, snap the beans into inch-long, bite size pieces.When the water is boiling, turn the stove to medium-high and add the fresh beans.Boil for no more than 45 seconds if you are making ½ lb of beans or if the pieces are very small, and no more than 2 minutes if there is a larger quantity or the beans are whole.Drain the beans in a colander.If you are not sautéing them immediately, rinse them under ice cold water to stop the cooking process.
In a large sauté pan or a wok, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.Add the garlic, onion, and green beans together and sauté only 2-3 minutes, or until the garlic and onion are lightly cooked.The beans should still be tender-crisp and retain a fresh flavour.Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.Serve while still hot.Enjoy!
Variation I: Spicy Green Beans
You will need all of the ingredients for Basic Green Beans, expect for the minced onion.
In addition, you will need:
- 1 ½ tbsp. minced fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1-4 dried red chile peppers, crushed
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Follow the directions for Basic Green Beans, adding the ginger and crushed chili peppers along with the garlic.Stir in the sliced almonds just before the dish finishes cooking.Drizzle the lemon juice over top after removing the beans from the heat, and just before serving.
Variation II: Artist’s Palette Green Beans
This recipe is named for the beautifully vivid colours of the dish.
You will need all of the ingredients for Basic Green Beans, except for the minced onion.
In addition, you will need:
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped purple onion
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cubed
- 1/2 gold bell pepper, cubed
Follow the basic directions for briefly cooking the green beans.Once the olive oil has been heated in a sauté pan, add the garlic, chopped onion, and bell peppers.Cook for two minutes, or until the peppers and onion are just slightly softened.Add the green beans and cook for just one minute more before seasoning with the salt and pepper and serving.