Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lean, green, healthy bean

Originally printed in The Clackamas Print,
Volume 44, Issue 23, Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Photo by Anna Axelson, May 2011
Green beans, string beans, snap beans; whatever you want to call them, you don’t have to climb up Jack’s beanstalk to get them.

Though green beans are available year-round, their season peaks between May and September, making now the perfect time to pay special attention to the produce aisle of your local supermarket.  When selecting the perfect green bean, you’ll want to look for a long, stiff yet flexible bean that gives a nice snap sound when broken (hence the alias “snap beans”).

In addition to being quite tasty and the most popular edible pod bean in the United States, green beans have numerous nutritious factors that make them that much more appealing. The green bean is a source of many members of the vitamin alphabet (including A, B and C) as well as several antioxidants, fiber and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.  They’re also free of fat, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol. Could you really ask for a better vegetable?

Green beans are so much more versatile than your traditional Thanksgiving green bean casserole.  They are sold canned, frozen and fresh and have been battered, fried, dried, canned, pureed and even used in tempura dishes.

Boiling, steaming, baking and even microwaving are popular methods of cooking green beans; however stir-frying preserves the best qualities of the fresh and healthy bean. Green beans can be cooked whole, cut crosswise, diagonally or French-cut (lengthwise); though if you want sweet-tasting, crisp  beans, cut them as little as possible.

Blackened Garlic Green Beans
Photo by Anna Axelson, May 2011


• One pound of fresh green beans
• One or two cloves of garlic
• One tablespoon of olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste


1. Begin by rinsing the green beans under cold water and breaking off each end.

2. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and in handful-sized batches, blanch the green beans for four to five minutes or until tender.  Drain green beans thoroughly, rinsing under cold water to halt the cooking process.  Mince the garlic.

3. Over medium heat, preheat a frying pan and pour in a tablespoon or so of olive oil, moving the pan around to coat the bottom well.

4. Add the garlic to the hot oil.  When the garlic has slightly begun to sweat and take on a little color, add the green beans to the pan.  Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring frequently until green beans begin to blacken.

5. Remove from heat and transfer your simple yet yummy creation to a serving platter. All that’s left is to stand back and enjoy the “oohs” and “aahs” that emit from your family and friends as they set their eyes and stomachs upon this beautiful side dish.

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