I absolutely adore green beans. They’ve been near the top of my favorite veggies list since I was little.
My normal ways of preparing them is to open a can, dump them in a microwave-safe container with some salt and pepper and heat them up or to fry up some bits of bacon in a pot and then add the canned beans and seasonings.
But despite my pedestrian preparation of green beans, I am always drawn to fresh ones in the produce aisle when they show up each year. Unfortunately for me (and probably because of my years of canned bean consumption), I’m not a huge fan of crunchy cooked green beans and I seem to struggle to cook them in such a way that they don’t get mushy and overdone.
I still grabbed a big bag of them recently, though, vowing to finally conquer fresh green beans once and for all.
And I totally accomplished it.
So, I thought I would share my green bean process with anyone else who struggles with the perfect line between crispy and mushy fresh beans every summer. I don’t have a specific source for this one, as it’s a product of lots of trial and error over the years, although I’m sure I’m not the first one to try such a preparation.
Fresh Green Beans
- 1-2 pounds fresh green beans
- About 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 6-8 cloves garlic minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- red pepper flakes to taste optional
- Cut or snap the stem end of each bean off (I also snapped the longer ones in half so they’d fit in my pot more easily.) and wash them thoroughly.
- Put the beans in a large pot and cover them with cold water.
- Bring the pot to a boil and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes or until they’re just fork tender.
- When the beans are almost done boiling, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the beans are done, drain them well and then add them to the skillet, stirring to coat them in oil.
- Add in the garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and stir again, letting the beans sit for a couple minutes on each side before stirring them around. Your goal is to get just a little bit of char on the beans and brown the garlic.
- When the garlic is browned, remove the beans from heat and serve immediately.
These also reheated as leftovers really well, which was nice, because I made way more green beans than we could eat in one meal.
And they turned out just how I like them: a beautiful bright green, plenty of flavor and no crunch when biting into them.
I know a lot of people will argue with me about crunchy beans, but if you’re like me and would rather not have that crisp texture, I’d recommend giving this method a try.
And, of course, there’s always the canned variety, but who wants to get out the can opener during the time of year that gardens are overflowing with fresh veggies?
This piece first appeared in print on July 11, 2019.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas and sponsored by Main Street Co. & Kitchen Corner in Newton, Kan. Visit their website at shopmainstco.com.