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Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Roasted" Green Beans


The green beans in my garden got off to a late start, but now that September has arrived, they are producing beautifully. One of our family's favorite ways to eat green beans is roasting in the oven, but the same results can easily be obtained by grilling and, I have discovered, by using my old standby cast iron skillet. One of the nice things about this method is that it works well for beans of all sizes, from the sweet and tender little pencil-sized ones up to the fat, lumpy ones that get missed under the leaves of the vines. (A friend of mine confided that she only plants the purple beans now, as they are so much easier to find when picking them in the garden.)

Whenever you have fresh green beans available, do try this variation from the steamed or (yikes) boiled kind that many people have come to expect from "string beans." Note that the "recipe" below is once again more method than measurement, scalable to whatever amount of beans you have. Just don't be surprised if your family eats far larger servings of these than you might be accustomed to serving.

I have included the variations for roasting or grilling the beans as well, but I wouldn't start the oven or grill just for the beans; it's just too easy to do these on the stovetop without needing to start another heat source.

Stove Top Roasted Green Beans

cast iron skillet, sized to allow beans to cook in a single layer (if you have a lot of beans, just do them in batches)
olive oil
green beans
salt

1.  Put a small amount of olive oil in the skillet, enough to just put a thin coat of oil across the entire surface. Heat the pan with the oil over medium high to high heat until it begins to "shimmer." (If you are not familiar with this term, just watch the oil and you will see it start to have tiny ripple-like movements across the surface, indicating the oil has reached a good cooking temperature.)





2.  While the oil is heating, rinse and dry the beans and remove the stem ends. No need to take off the pointy "tails" of the beans. If some of the beans are quite large, you may wish to cut them lengthwise into two or three pieces.
3.  When the oil has begun to shimmer, spread the beans in a single layer in the skillet. Do not turn down the heat! Sprinkle the beans lightly with salt and allow them to cook for a few minutes before turning.
4.  Continue cooking until the beans are lightly browned and a little crispy and wrinkled on both sides.




Variations

Roasted Green Beans
1.  Heat the oven to 400 to 450 degrees (depending on what else you might have in the oven at the time).
2.  Cover a cookie sheet with foil (for easier clean up but not absolutely necessary). Spread the prepared beans (see step 2 above) in a single layer in the pan and drizzle with a little olive oil.
3.  Using a silicon spatula or your fingers (which is really the best way), toss the beans so that they are well-coated with the oil. Sprinkle salt over the top.
4.  Roast the beans in the oven about 5 to 8 minutes, until they are beginning to brown in spots. Remove from oven and turn. Return to oven and cook a few minutes more, until the beans are nicely browned, wrinkly and maybe even a little crisp.

Grilled Green Beans
1.  Prepare the beans as in step 2 for Stove Top Beans. Spread on heavy aluminum foil and put on the grill.
2.  Roast on the grill, turning as needed so that the beans are evenly browned.


Stove Top Green Beans and Other Vegetables

Cook the beans as directed above. When completely cooked, remove the beans to a plate. Add a bit more oil to the pan as necessary and then saute onions and peppers, matchstick sized zucchini or yellow squash, and carrot slices as desired. Return the green beans to the pan to warm before serving.
















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