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Green beans, string beans, snap beans. Such a commonplace bean, chefs and home cooks can often overlook it in search of something more intriguing, trendy or unusual. This thin, humble bean has earned its righteous place on the Thanksgiving table, but at its seasonal peak, which is now, it can add a glorious and sassy snap to salads, sides and main dishes.
Purchasing and Storing
Farmers markets, and your own garden, are the best places to find green beans this time of year. They should be smooth, deep green and free from spots. Snap one in half; it should be crisp and juicy. Store beans unwashed in a plastic or paper bag kept in the refrigerator crisper for about a week.
Because they are so common, we often miss out on the health benefits of green beans. Move over carrots and tomatoes, the presence of the same important carotenoids in green beans is comparable to red and orange vegetables we hear so much about. We don’t see these carotenoids because of the concentrated chlorophyll content of green beans, which provides the lovely shade of green. These carotenoids, along with a healthy dose of flavonoids give green beans some unique anti-inflammatory benefits. Green beans are also an underrated source of Omega-3 fatty acids which are important for cardiovascular health.
After washing green beans, you can remove both ends of the beans by either snapping them off or cutting them with a knife. Many people leave the beautiful, delicate ends on the bean, no harm in that.
Raw green beans can be eaten as a snack served with dip or added to salads. Steamed beans are a delight when sprinkled with slivered almonds and given a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. Sauté them with shiitake mushrooms or add them to a stir fry or soup. Roast or grill them with grape tomatoes and garlic for a rich, deep flavor. Try our Garlic-Ginger Green Beans, or Green Beans with Toasted Almonds and Shiitake Bacon, or create your own recipe!