Beans are the quintessential ‘eat your greens’ vegetable, but their colour, satisfying crunch, and those sweet seeds that burst out from the pod make them delicious too.
Containing lutein and beta-carotene (which give them their greenness), beans also have impressive antioxidant capacity thanks to a concentration of nutrients like anti-ageing phenolic acid and vitamin C. To retain the most of their goodness, steaming for just five minutes is recommended. This brings out their flavour but keeps the beans tender and firm, allowing them to retain that glowing green.
• One of the simplest things to do with green beans is to roast them with lots of olive oil and garlic, and then serve with toasted almonds.
• Green beans fried with cubed potatoes and onion – with a good shot of white pepper – also make for a beautiful side dish, especially served with lamb.
• Bundles of steamed green beans wrapped in prosciutto is a great alternative when you can’t find fresh asparagus. Drizzle with basil pesto for extra zing.
• For a beautiful Asian-inspired side, stir-fry green beans and mushrooms (preferably some exotic Asian type) with crushed garlic, chopped chilli and fresh ginger. Add a dollop of oyster sauce towards the end of the cooking process.
• Take two of summer’s best green ingredients, asparagus and green beans, and turn them into a stunning salad. Simply steam or blanche the greens, rinse and toss into a large bowl. Add halved rosa tomatoes, crumbled feta and a dressing of olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. To make it a bit more substantial, you can add halved boiled baby potatoes.
• A South African classic – bunny chow with veg curry – needs lots of green beans. It’s the perfect meal for the unexpectedly chilly summer evening.
• Green beans are a great addition to pilaf (or pilau). Combine this rice dish with butternut, cumin and pine nuts.
• Jamie Oliver’s take on green beans is to dress them (while still warm after steaming) with vinegar, olive oil, crushed garlic and mustard.
• Duck and green beans are great friends in a simple stir-fry or salad, or when serving a roast duck on a bed of crisp beans. One of our favourite recipes comes courtesy of Woolworths TASTE: duck, asparagus, green bean and sweet potato salad.
Image by pizzodisevo