How Green is Your Bean?
Did you know that green beans come in yellow and purple too? They have even more names than hues, including wax, string, snap, green, common and haricot verts, with haricot verts being a super skinny French variety. One also hears the terms pole beans and bush beans, but that is only an indication of whether the individual variety is an upward climbing plant that requires staking or a ground hugging bush plant. There are an estimated 1,000 varieties of this tasty dangling vegetable.
What on earth did the Europeans and Asians eat before the Americas sent them all the vegetal wonders of the western hemisphere? Along with tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins, squash, maize, peanuts, bell and chili peppers, avocados, strawberries, maple syrup, blueberries, vanilla and wild rice, the Americas have given the world the green bean. Whatever you choose to call it, this particular contribution has been adopted and adapted into nearly every earthly cuisine.
These long lean bean pods that diverse chefs bend to their own backgrounds and tastes are really the edible pods of many types of beans we dry for other uses. When desired in the pod form, they are sufficiently ripe for harvesting while the beans inside are still immature. In pod form, they are pickled by the Japanese when they aren’t being drenched in a tempura batter for a speed date with hot oil; stir-fried by the Chinese; curried by the Indians; tagine-ed by North Africans; and classically “Almondined” by the French. Green beans have the gumption to be eaten raw, steamed, parboiled, sautéed, grilled, casseroled and roasted. However you decide to prepare them, in most cases they are quickly on the table, a valued trait these days.
In columns past, we’ve provided recipes for Green Beans with Bacon, String Beans with Ginger and Garlic and String Beans with Orange Mint Dressing, all of which are available on the website. This week our Market Master, Kay Carroll, has contributed a dish of her own for our tables: Roasted Green Beans and Tomato Pasta. Roasting the beans and tomatoes first intensifies and enhances all their natural flavors, making this dish a true table winner.
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