Italian Green Beans


How I love strolling around the farmer’s market on a warm spring Saturday. There’s nothing better. As with everything else in my life, I love to arrive early so I can talk to the vendors before the crowd gets there and I get overwhelmed and have to leave all the good stuff is taken. 


The farmer’s market must-have of this season? Purple green beans. They’re all the rage. Well, they are in the Sparkle Kitchen, at least. A few weekends ago, I spotted a woman selling several varieties of green beans. I asked her about the flavor difference between the purple variety and her slender French green beans. She said that the purple ones are the best because she thinks they’re more sweet and tender than the green ones. Sold. 


I brought these amethyst-hued veggies home and set about developing the perfect recipe. 


Although this probably wouldn’t disappoint anyone other than myself and six year old girls, I do want to point out that purple green beans don’t retain much of their color when cooked. Expect green beans with purple flecks. 


This recipe is one of my two standard ways of preparing green beans. I think they’re best served on the more-cooked end of the spectrum. These aren’t the flavorless, boiled green beans of the school cafeteria. I like to crisp mine a bit. In this recipe, I start with a saute, then add liquids (low-sodium chicken or veggie bouillon cube, water, and wine) and cover to tenderize and cook the green beans. Then I remove the lid and let the crisping magic happen. Cook them to your liking, though, and adjust the proportions of liquids to suit (careful not to add too much water, or your flavorful liquid cooking base will be diluted). 


By the way, my alternative green bean cooking method is to lay them flat on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, balsamic, and prosciutto (if I’m feeling fancy) and cook at 350 until crispy. 

I  took notes on this recipe twice. I made it with and without cherry tomatoes (I recommend “with” – they’re so sweet and tangy this time of year). I also added a drizzle of herby Italian salad dressing that was sheer perfection. 


Italian Green Beans
Serves 2-4 as a side dish

You will need:
  • 2 handfulls of fresh green beans
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, plus extra to drizzle
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 bouillon cube (I recommend low-sodium chicken)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp. pesto
  • 8 – 12 cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Drizzle of Italian salad dressing (optional)

Method:
  • Heat a large skillet to medium-high setting with olive oil, garlic, green beans, balsamic, and a bit of salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes. 
  • Reduce heat to medium and add bouillon cube. Stir in water and wine. Cook, covered, for 10-12 minutes, until green beans look tender. 
  • Remove lid and break up any bouillon cube remains, if it hasn’t melted into the water-wine mixture. 
  • Add pesto and tomatoes (if using), and cook, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes, until green beans have crisped. 
  • Turn off heat. Add Parmesan cheese and lemon juice, stirring to incorporate. 
  • Serve warm, with an extra drizzle of balsamic, salt, and pepper (and dressing, if using). 


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