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How to kick gren beans up a notch

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  1. Judy Rodgers' recipe in her The Zuni Cafe Cookbook for Italian-style slow-cooked romano beans is immortal. If flat Italian/roman beans are unavailable, you can use sturdy pole-type green beans (but not tender little green beans).

    Basically, you take a couple of pounds of trimmed beans, coat them in a bit of olive oil, add some salt and crushed red pepper flakes, and put them in a heavy covered pot over very low heat for a couple of hours or more, turning them a few times.

    Couldn't be easier and more delicious.

    What happens is that the heat slowly penetrates the beans and they gradually release their moisture and cook in it. It takes a long time for this process to transform the beans; for the first 90 minutes, it may look like nothing is really happening. Patience is key; do not try to speed it up, or you won't find the Grail. Other than needing patience, the recipe is utterly effortless.

    The beans turn an olive color: this is not about bright green crunchy beans tasting of chlorophyll. Rather, it is about developing a deep, rich flavor characteristic of beans.


    4 Replies
    1. re: Karl S.

      I second this approach. I grew up eating beans cooked this way, except that pork fat of some sort (bacon slices or butt-end of a ham)generally substituted for the olive oil.

      When I left home, I cooked only crunchy green beans, with my favorites being tossed with olive oil and lemon juice or briefly sauteed in olive oil and sprinkled with parmegiano.

      Tried the long-cooking method again just last summer with really fresh flat beans. They are heavenly!

      1. re: Karl S.

        Do you think it would work in a crock pot on low?

        1. re: Bobfrmia

          I would think so, but I don't think you'd want to let them sit all day. I'd try it on a day where I could check them after a couple of hours and then each hour or so thereafter.

        2. re: Karl S.

          I have used this method with romano beans from the farmers market and it is really good. Another similar method is to stew them with bacon or pancetta and tomatoes. You cut up some bacon and cook until crisp in a saute pan, then remove the bacon, leaving some grease in there. Add a small chopped onion and cook in the bacon grease until softenened and just starting to turn brown. Then stir in the romato beans and about a cup or a cup and a half of chopped tomatoes (if in season, or use canned when not in season). Add cold water to come just below the level of the beans, increase heat to high and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer until the beans are tender, about 20 or 25 minutes, then take off the cover and increase the heat to boil off the excess cooking liquid, leaving as much "sauce" as you want. Add back the bacon and some chopped parsley, taste for seasoning and you're done! They are great served hot or just warm. Sometimes I add a pinch of sugar and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and simmer for just a minute before turning off the heat.

          The bacon is optional if you are a vegetarian but it adds a nice smoky depth of flavor.

        3. Toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic on a cookie sheet. Roast them in the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until they are a bit shriveled with brown spots, stirring once or twice.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jess

            I do this all the time and people are always amazed at how good they are. I don't even use garlic, though.

            1. re: Jess

              I do this with so many vegtables, but I don't use garlic and rather than plain salt I use a gray sea salt with herbs de provence.

            2. I clean and prep them.
              Then team them for a few minutes with a small amount of oil, water, and soy sauce.

              Once they are gently steamed I toss with a combination of soy sauce (I prefer low sodium), water, lemon/lime juice, EVOO, powdered ginger, wasabi, and scallions. I have no idea the amounts - just a small amount of wasabi and ginger go along way. Tasting to get the right combo is half the fun.

              TIP - Add the oil last because it is very hard to taste the other ingredients.

              1. Over Thanksgiving I tossed my just-barely-steamed green beans with a mixture of low-fat sour cream (low fat has a better texture for this job), mustard and a bit of lemon juice - they were the first thing to go!

                1. I boil or steam them until done -- I like them very tender -- and then heat up some butter, toast a handful of slivered almonds in it, add lemon juice and toss the beans in the mixture. It is fantastic! Also you can skip the lemon juice and use mushrooms instead of slivered almonds.

                  1. I like them simple. blanche in boiling water briefly (I like them crunchy but you can go as long as you want). drain and wash with cold water to stop them from cooking. 5 minutes before you want to serve them pat dry and toss in a pan with high quality olive oil and crushed garlic. This will reheat them and cook them just a little bit more. sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

                    1. After parboiling green beans in salted water, I sometimes put them in a saute pan with some of my homemade spaghetti sauce and let them simmer until the beans are soft - no crunch.

                      1. (1) Blanch and then saute in butter with salt and Herbs de Provence until done. Simple, subtle, tasty.


                        (2) Blanch and set aside, draining. Carmelize onions (and mushrooms if you like them) and add green beans. Cook until done. Add a spoonful of marinara sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Or, instead of pepper, you can add brown sugar for yet another slight variation.


                        (3) Infuse olive oil with crushed garlic (don't cook the garlic, but heat and remove from heat a few times). Add Italian herbs blend, salt and pepper. Infuse oil. Add blanched green beans and stir. Do not cook much-keep greens beans kind of firm. Serve warm or as a cold salad. Add shredded chicken in the mix for a meal.


                        (4) In a Chinese sweet and sour oyster sauce. Kind of like this recipe:
                        except [(a) use green beans instead of brocolli and (b) use brown sugar instead of white and increase by 1/2 TBsp]

                        1. I've had them served in a sesame dressing and they're quite tasty that way.

                          1. I steam them in the microwave and toss with a small amount of butter and lime juice.

                            1. Three of my favorites:

                              Number one: Clean, trim and boil to desired doneness in salted water and rinse to cool, as others have described. Then toss with really good olive oil, balsamic vinegar, coarse salt, pepper, torn basil, a few cherry tomato havlves and some feta cheese. This preparation also works really well with corn or a mixture of corn and beans. Once you've tried this, you'll think of thousands of variations and want to experiment with differnt oils, vinegars, herbs, cheese, peppers instead of tomatoes; I'm sure you get the point.

                              Number two: Clean, trim, and boil in salted water to desired doness, drain and pat dry but do not cool. Toss with a bit of walnut oil (just enough to coat) and toasted, broken walnut bits. Hazelnut oil and hazelnuts should work too.

                              Number three: I used this recipe, loosely adapted from "Fine Cooking" for Thanksgiving. A BIG hit. Clean, trim and boil in salted water to desired doneness, rinse to cool. Meanwhile, slowly saute thinly sliced red onion in butter. Add orange juice, mustard (dijon, whole grain or a combo) and brown sugar. Once the sauce thickens, add green beans to warm through. This is a very pretty dish, particularly if you use half green beans and yellow half wax beans. Just boil the two types of beans separately as they cook at somewhat different rates.

                              Boiled beans, once cooled, can last a few hours if stored with a paper towel in a ziplock bag.

                              1. All ingredients are to taste. Thinly slice onion, chop some garlic. Saute in neutral oil in a large skillet until soft. Add whole trimmed green beans, some coconut milk, about 1/3 can for 1 lb beans to start (you can use reduced fat),a little fish sauce and some dried hot red pepper (whatever type you prefer - the Thai ones are good) crushed between your fingers. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and cook slowly until green beans are done.Depending on the amount of beans and coconut milk, takes about 25-30 minutes. Keep checking - you may need to add more coconut milk as it cooks down. The finished dish has more of a glaze than a sauce.

                                1. Stir fy in peanut oil, then add worcestershire and a bit of tabasco sauce.

                                  1. Stir-fry cleaned, snapped beans with some peanut oil & a bit of garlic or onion, pour in a can of chopped or diced tomatoes, reduce the tomatoes until most of the liquid is gone, add a can (usually just one of the little ones)of coconut milk. Jazz it up with a little salt & red pepper (I've even used those diced tomatoes with the pepper in them...I think they're Rotel brand)and serve. This is my new mad passion, I would eat it seven nights a week. And I was never a tremendous fan of the green bean. Its kind of like brussels sprouts, I thought I hated them until I had them sauteed in butter with garlic and then splashed with lemon juice.
                                    Hey, add enough fat to anything, I'll like it.

                                    1. Marinate steamed green beans in a mix of 2 T soy sauce, 1 t sugar, 1 T sesame oil, 1 T white vinegar, 1 T rice wine or dry sherry, 1/2 to 1 t finely minced ginger, 1/4 t Asian chili paste -- for between 30 mins and an hour. Sprinkle with lightly toasted sesame seeds.