Fee-fi-fo-fum! Remember the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, the English folktale about a boy who goes to market to sell his cow and ends up with magic beans that grow into a gigantic beanstalk? As a child I was fascinated by that story, only to become spellbound once my mother told me my green beans came from beanstalks. Could the green beans I was having for dinner possibly be from the same beanstalk that Jack had climbed?
Originating in Peru, green beans spread throughout South and Central America, and eventually Europe and the rest of the world. They are known by many names, including “snap beans,” “pole beans” and “string beans,” although the thin string that runs down the side of the bean is rarely found in modern varieties. Although mostly green in color, some “green beans” are yellow, red, whitish green and even streaked with color.
Purchase green beans that are firm and smooth, no brown or soft spots and no bruises. Remember, they should snap easily. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. For easy back up, frozen green beans, either whole or cut, come in very handy.
Green beans are delicious in salads, main dishes, soups and snacks. They can be eaten raw or cooked, diced or whole. Here are a slew of ideas:
- Lightly steam and add to vegetable or leafy green salads. Here’s a recipe for Greens and Green Beans Salad with Blueberry Dressing and here’s one for Green Beans with Goat Cheese Dressing.
- Steam or sauté. Toss with chopped nuts, garlic, green onions or chives. These Citrus Green Beans are wonderful with walnut oil and lemon zest.
- Cook favorite whole grains. Add green beans during the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking.
- Add cut or chopped green beans to soups and stews. If you’re a curry lover, you won’t want to pass on Tempeh Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans or this Chicken and Vegetable Curry Soup. If stew is your forte, you’ve got to try this Curried Pork Stew with Potatoes and Green beans, or this Chipotle Veggie Stew.
- Use as a dipper along with cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers and celery. Enjoy these Steamed Green Beans with Carrot-Dill Dip. Great with bean dip, tofu or sour cream dips and hummus.
- This Crab Salad with Lemon Dressing is made with Haricot Verts — thin, French green beans.
- Make a Three-Bean Salad with green beans. Our version has quinoa, but you could also use brown rice, bulgur wheat or couscous.
- Serve tuna or egg salad over a bed of steamed green beans, or add green beans directly to the salad.
- Add to stir fries. This Beef and Green Bean Stir Fry is simple and delicious.
- This fall, enjoy this Autumn Lamb Stew made with green beans.
- Toss with pasta or noodles. Add olive oil and Parmesan cheese. This recipe for Farfalle with Summer Veggies is made with fresh herbs.
- Green beans are famous in casseroles. Here’s our New and Improved Green Bean Casserole version.
- Try green beans with fruit. My favorite is a mango, avocado and green bean salad with Champagne vinaigrette. Here’s an idea for a Pomegranate, Green Bean and Jicama Salad.
- Serve as a side dish to meat, poultry, fish, tofu or tempeh. Crumb-Topped Tilapia with Green Beans is made with hearty whole grain bread and almonds.
- Top sandwiches with raw or steamed green beans.
Have you ever gorged on green beans? Got a reason or a recipe? I’d love to know.