*Diane loves green beans so much that I have to make them at least every other week. If I don’t, she starts poking around in the kitchen while I’m cooking dinner, asking if we’re going to have them any time soon.
The kids won’t touch them; they’re green. It’s just not happening. My dad picked beans for a summer job when he was a boy, and they’re his favorite vegetable. My two brothers can’t stand them. I was talking with Pat last weekend, and he said:
“I finally subscribed to your blog by email, and what’s the first one I get? Green beans! Why did I bother?”
Trust me when I say this is a good recipe. As I said above, I’ve made it every two weeks for the last eight years. It uses a steam/saute technique I learned from Pam Anderson’s How to Cook without a Book. In fact, Pam put this exact technique on her blog a couple of weeks ago, right after I took the pictures for this post. You can check out the original recipe here: Simple Steam-Sauteed Green Beans.
- Wide saucepan or fry pan with a lid
- 1 pound green beans, stem ends trimmed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 1 tbsp butter (optional, but pretty plain without it)
- 1 lemon, zested then halved (optional)
1. Steam the Green Beans: Put the beans in the pan. Add the garlic, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp ground pepper, and 1 tbsp butter. Cover the pan, and put over medium-high heat. Wait for the water to come to a boil, then cook, covered, for 8 minutes.
2. Saute the Green Beans: Remove the lid, and cook, stirring the beans occasionally. Keep cooking until all the remaining water boils off and the beans are tender, and just starting to brown, another 2-3 minutes.
*You should be left with just the butter in the pan, and you’ll know you’re there when you hear the beans start to sizzle. I test for doneness by biting into a bean; it should have just a hint of crunch to it.
3. Season the beans: Squeeze the lemon over the beans and stir to combine. Pour the beans, butter and lemon juice onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and serve.
*I’m in a real hurry: Skip the garlic and lemon – just use beans, salt, pepper and butter.
*I want to be really healthy: Cut the butter back to 1 teaspoon. I wouldn’t eliminate it entirely. Even a little butter adds a big hit of flavor to the beans.
*Olive Oil: Substitute olive oil (or any other vegetable oil) for the butter, or do half butter, half oil.
*Asian: Add 2 cloves of minced garlic with the green beans, substitute 1/4 cup soy sauce for half the water, and substitute 2 tsp vegetable oil and 1 tsp toasted sesame oil for the butter.
*Orange beans: Substitute half an orange and its zest for the lemon.
*Trimming green beans: I grab a handful, line them all up with the stem side facing in the same direction, then push the bunch of beans up against my knife to get the stems in a line. This makes it easy for me to chop the stems off a lot of beans in one slice.
*Part of why I’m showing you this recipe just before Christmas is: I’m making a big batch of beans for Christmas dinner. I double the recipe, and steam-saute them in my dutch oven, then follow the make-ahead instructions, below.
*To Make ahead: Only add the beans, water and salt, and finish through step 1. Drain the beans and refrigerate them up to two days. (I put them in a ziploc bag in the refrigerator). 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve them, heat the tablespoon of butter in a fry pan over medium high heat until the butter stops foaming. Add the beans, and saute for a couple of minutes, stirring often, until the beans are heated through and starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two, or until you just start to smell the garlic. Add pepper, taste to see if you need to add a little more salt, squeeze the juice of half a lemon over them, and serve.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Pam Anderson: How to Cook Without a Book
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