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Published September 02, 2009, 12:00 AM

Add some zing to green beans

While fresh green beans are available most of the year, their peak season is May to October. They are now available at local farmers markets, and I’ve been taking advantage of their abundance.

By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM

While fresh green beans are available most of the year, their peak season is May to October. They are now available at local farmers markets, and I’ve been taking advantage of their abundance.

I do not like green beans that are half raw. So when I prepare them, I put them in a steamer and cook them until they are fairly soft.

To ensure that the beans will be done at the same time, pick through the display and choose beans of the same size, the smaller the better. Discard beans that are rigid or that show seeds coming out of the pod. Keep the beans dry and store them in the fridge in a perforated plastic bag for up to four days.

Wash and trim beans and cut if desired either across or diagonally. French-cut green beans are sliced lengthwise, and there is a little doodad that you can feed the bean through to make it French-cut, but a very sharp knife works, too. This method is best for larger beans.

Either steam the beans or cook them in as little water as possible. If they are cooked in water, save the liquid for soup or use it to boil rice. After draining the beans, rinse them in very cold water to stop the cooking.

One of the things I like about the farmers market is visiting with the farmers. One day when I was buying those thick, stubby carrots, I told Jim Driscoll and his wife, Connie, about my barbecued carrot recipe and later brought them a sample at their stall at the market, by the Fargo dam.

The Driscolls in turn told me one of the ways that they prepared green beans, and I tried their recipe. The Driscolls use House of Tsang Spicy Stir Fry Sauce in their beans, but I had hoisin sauce and Szechuan hot chile sauce on hand, so I substituted. My beans were probably not as spicy as the Driscolls’ recipe, but they were mighty darn good.

When I want something a little calmer, I toss the cooked beans in a vinaigrette sauce or just mix them with a little fresh lemon juice and some toasted almonds. They are also good in pasta salads. And I found a recipe for Gingered Green Beans that I am going to try soon.

Driscoll’s Green Beans

1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1½-inch pieces

1/2 pound bacon, cut in half-inch pieces

1 large onion, chopped

4 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 or 2 tablespoons Szechuan hot chile sauce

Salt to taste

Steam green beans until they are almost done. Fry bacon and remove all but about a tablespoon of fat. Add onion and sauté until onion is softened. Add cooked green beans, hoisin sauce and hot chile sauce. Stir well to combine and serve. Serves 4.


2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup parsley leaves, loosely packed

In the bottom of a bowl large enough to toss the green beans, stir together lemon juice or vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. When salt has dissolved, add remaining ingredients and add cooked beans. Toss to combine.

Gingered Green Beans

2 pounds green beans, trimmed

3-inch-long piece fresh ginger

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook beans, uncovered, until tender. Drain beans. Peel ginger and cut into thin matchsticks. Heat butter in a large frying pan on medium heat. When foam subsides, add ginger and cook, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add beans and cook, stirring, until just heated through. Remove pan from heat and add zest and salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Serves 6.

Readers can reach Forum columnist Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at