By Amanda Stone
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Serendipity is happening in our gardens and farmers markets right now. Green beans, onions and new potatoes are each ready to harvest at the same time. No wonder they come together so perfectly. It's as nature intended.
There is a beautiful abundance of green beans in my garden. I was pretty proud that my little green bean darlings were producing like mad.
At this point, I don't get quite as excited about the prospect of stooping over to search for the beans, which are so excellent at camouflaging their long, skinny bodies.
After getting my fill of traditional boiled green beans, new potatoes, onions and bacon, I started searching for new possibilities for my green bean bounty. My life is forever changed. I look at my green bean plants with new appreciation. I would be delighted to pick green beans eternally because of the delicious possibilities.
Green beans also go by the name string beans or snap beans because of the labor involved in eating them. The string has been bred out of most varieties, thank goodness. The snap is still necessary though, in order to pop off the stem. They come in the pole or bush variety. I thought bush beans made more sense until I recently saw a friend's pole beans winding up their cage in her garden. The vines were so pretty and would make more efficient use of space in my small garden. Next year.
We don't have to boil the poor things to death in order to make them yummy. We don't even have to use bacon. Gasp! Fresh green beans are crisp and delicious on their own or served alongside carrots, celery, sugar snap peas and dips. They are amazing when sauteed in butter and garlic for just a few minutes -- just long enough for them to retain a bit of their snap. Pickled green beans are a pleasant surprise in a bloody mary.
Snap some green beans from your garden or the farmers market for these recipes.
Pesto potato salad with green beans
4 pounds small Yukon gold or red-skinned potatoes, quartered
1 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch segments
1 to 2 small garlic cloves, peeled
2 bunches of basil (about 1 ounce each)
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons (or more to taste) mild vinegar, such as champagne, white wine or white balsamic
1/4 cup green onions (scallions), chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
Parmesan cheese, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add beans; cook 4 minutes longer. Drain well and let cool, then transfer potatoes and beans to a large bowl. Meanwhile, discard the stems from the basil and wash and dry the leaves. Puree them in a food processor with garlic, drizzling in enough olive oil that it gets saucy. Season the pesto with salt and pepper. (Alternately, you can swap this step with 1 cup of prepared pesto, but I think you'll be missing out.) Toss the beans and potatoes with pesto. Stir in vinegar, green onions, pine nuts and season with salt, pepper and additional vinegar to taste. Shave wide flakes of Parmesan over the salad with a vegetable peeler. Serve immediately or prepare up to 2 hours in advance. Store at room temperature.
Adapted from smittenkitchen.com
Green bean and pasta salad
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat penne pasta (4 ounces)
1 cup green beans, halved crosswise (4 ounces)
1 cup red or kidney beans, rinsed
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper
Cook the pasta according to the package's directions, adding the green beans during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Toss the cooled pasta and green beans with the red beans, parsley, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
Adapted from realsimple.com
Paprika shrimp and green bean saute
4 cups green beans, trimmed (about 12 ounces)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced garlic
2 teaspoons paprika
1 pound raw shrimp peeled and deveined (frozen is OK)
2 16-ounce cans large butter beans or cannellini beans, rinsed
1/4 cup sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Bring 1 inch of water to boil in a large saucepan. Put green beans in a steamer basket; cover and steam until tender-crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and paprika and cook, stirring constantly, until just fragrant but not browned, about 20 seconds. Add shrimp and cook until pink and opaque, about 2 minutes per side. Stir in beans, vinegar and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup parsley. Serve topped with the shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with pepper and the remaining 1/4 cup parsley.
Adapted from eatingwell.com
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