Sunday, July 19, 2009

All about green beans

Green beans are abundant and cheap all summer long- so enjoy them while the getting is good. They use to be commonly referred to as string beans, as they use to have a tough string running along one side of the bean, although not so much in our modern varieties. These bright green beans are high in vitamin A, C, K, potassium and iron and they contain omega-3 fatty acids. And, I've read that eating green beans may help boost energy levels, as well as cardiovascular and bone health.

Some other varieties...

Haricots verts, or French green beans, are more petite than regular green beans.

Yellow wax beans have gentler, more mellow flavour then green beans. They are best raw or blanched or shock boiled. They are great to mix with green beans (half yellow, half green) when you want to add a little colour to a salad or side dish.

Purple wax beans are purple outside and green inside. They fade to green when cooked so it's best to serve them raw and sliced to show off their beautiful hybrid colors.

The recipe I made this evening is Martha Stewart's Green Bean Salad with Almonds, and I highly recommend it. They are fresh and crisp with a hint of Asian flavours with toasted sesame oil, ginger and soy sauce. This recipe would make a great side dish to anything. Anything. Another one of my favorite green bean recipes is Tarragon Green and Butter Beans.

Grean Bean Salad with Almonds (serves 6)
adapted from Martha Stewart

1/2 cup tamari almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped roughly (optional)

Prepare a large bowl of ice water. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook beans until crisp-tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Drain the beans and transfer to the bowl of ice water. Remove green beans and drain well.

In a large bowl, combine the sesame oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Add the drained green beans and toss to coat. Garnish with roasted almonds and fresh cilantro, if desired. Serve warm or cooled.

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