Glorious green beans abound right now. Eating them just simply steamed works perfectly well, especially if they are super fresh. You might hanker to vary the preparation a little though, also simply done.
Fresh, raw green beans make very good quick pickles. Put a couple of handfuls of green beans with stem ends snapped off into a shallow bowl. Bring to a boil a mixture of a quarter cup each of water, cider vinegar and sugar, and a tablespoon of pickling salt, then pour it hot over the beans and let it cool. Keep in the fridge for a couple of days or serve them later the same day.
You can also start several preparations by blanching them in boiling water for about one minute, draining and refrigerating them, and then using them when you need them. Blanching turns the beans a lovely green and brings out their flavor; same goes for asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and snap peas, too.
Serve blanched beans as crudites dipped in your favorite thick salad dressing like blue cheese or ranch-style, in an aioli sauce made with mayonnaise and dab of mustard, or in a bit of grated lemon peel and some pureed garlic to taste.
Serve them cold as a side dish with a vinaigrette dressing, with or without chopped red onion, garlic or finely minced dill leaves. A sprinkle of parmesan is a good addition, and so is a little crumbled cooked bacon.
Reheat them by sizzling them for about five minutes in olive oil and butter, salt and pepper, with or without a little chopped shallot or garlic, served hot.
Green beans are good roasted alone or with other vegetables. Toss the beans with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then put them in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes, or more if you prefer a longer cooked bean. If you are preparing a sheet pan dinner, for instance, wait until the last 10 to 15 minutes before you add the beans, so they cook without shrinking a lot or getting tough.
A couple of evenings ago, my niece Sarah and I decided to have some grilled sweet Italian sausages with grilled pattypan squash. Pattypans are the yellow or green summer squashes that look a little like flying saucers. We slice them thickly, wonderfully firm with not many seeds, brush them with olive oil and stick them on the grill for about 10 minutes.
While we were at it, we put a bunch of green beans in a hand-held grill, the kind you put hot dogs in to hold over a fire. This was so they’d be easy to manipulate and wouldn’t fall through the bars of the grill. Sarah mixed up some olive oil with salt and pepper and a little crushed rosemary and brushed both sides of the beans with it. They took about five minutes per side. When we sat down and ate, she exclaimed, “These beans are ridiculously delicious.” So they were.
We’ll be doing them that way again some time soon.
Grilled Green Beans
¼ lb green beans, per person
2 tablespoons of olive oil, or more as needed
Several grinds of black pepper
Toss the green beans with the seasoned oil.
Keeping your beans whole, arrange on a grill pan or crosswise on a grill so they don’t fall through.
Grill for about five minutes, and turn, using tongs. Brush with more oil, and grill for three to five minutes longer.
Taste to see if they are done enough and cook a little longer if you wish.