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It really truly is my sister Helen who loves green beans any shape, any form.  (I keep saying this.) Crisp and salady or granny style with tiny new potatoes and lots of sliced onions with black pepper; she’ll eat them however you cook them.  But the older I get, more I find myself grabbing a big bagful and running home to cook them.   My very favorite prep might be my addictive lemon green beans; I make them for meals and for counter snacks:

Lemon Green Beans here.

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But I don’t know. I have a favorite memory of my mom (I’m a bit late for Mother’s Day…) sitting on the back step snapping and stringing beans in a big stainless steel bucket with a handle and of course whomever was within grabbing distance needed to help with that “mess of beans.”  My mom’s homegrown and home canned  beans weren’t exactly fixed granny style*, though they could be.  They might also have a piece of ham or a few slices of bacon in them and could be served in a bowl with the “liquor” on a cold winter’s night  or with sliced tomatoes, cornbread, and sweet tea for a summer’s day lunch.  She was from Macomb, Mississippi and if it didn’t always show in her cooking, it certainly did most of the time.

I’m wondering if it wasn’t Trader Joe’s in Saint Paul that convinced me to buy more green beans.  The tiny, skinny-sweet haricots verts –autocorrect insists on “certs” — quickly steamed in the microwave became an immediate favorite of mine.  I soon found packages of these no snapping or stringing babies other places and they were often microwavable right in the package.  What more could you ask for?  These days I’m in Costco weekly and the beans from their 2-pound bag are microwavable, too, but I often just cook up what I need in a 3 or 4-quart pot and store the rest in a sealed bag in the crisper.  Which is what happened here.

I’ve been eating this newest version for lunch and they almost, but not quite, fit in my Vegan Before Six life. No worries, though — even Mark Bittman switches things around once in a while. Yesterday I even had a bowl of them with a little shredded chicken (oh horrors, meat!!) for garnish. You’ll see I recommend them with a plate of brown rice stirred together with some other goodies or as a side for your grilled meats or vegetables. If the weather ever supports and afternoon on the grill.  Snowed here yesterday.  I think I’ll have to make this for my sister.  Soon.

*Cooked to a very tender death

Try this:

GREEN BEANS WITH FETA + HOT TOMATO-GARLIC VINAIGRETTE

6-8 side servings or 2-3 as a main dish*      IMG_5661

Cook up some beans with a chopped onion–then add red wine vinegar — and at the same time sauté some garlic with a good handful of cherry tomatoes.  Toss it all together and finish it off with a generous scoop of feta in the middle. The vinaigrette isn’t made separately, but is added bit by bit to the dish.  Great as a side for your grilled chicken or portobellos and excellent as a light lunch all by its lonesome.

  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 4 cups fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons – or to taste – good quality red wine vinegar (I like FINI.)
  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry or chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled (Buy the “brick” of feta and crumble it yourself.)

Fill a 4-quart pot half full of water and season it well with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cover and bring to a boil. Add green beans and chopped onions; cook 5 minutes or until nearly tender, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.  (Skinny haricots verts or young beans will take much less time than large or old beans, which can be sliced lengthwise — “Frenched” to decrease cooking time.) Drain well.  Pour into a large bowl and sprinkle evenly with the vinegar; toss.  Season well with salt and pepper and toss very well. Taste and adjust seasonings.

In the meantime, in a small skillet, heat the oil over medium-low with garlic for a minute or two; add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes have softened just a little and the garlic is becoming golden, but not brown.  Pour the hot tomato mixture evenly over the green beans and toss well.  Taste again and adjust seasonings if necessary, including the vinegar.   Push bean mixture to the outsides of the bowl, creating a well in the center and add the feta there.  Garnish the center of the feta with a couple of the cooked tomatoes and a grind or two of pepper.

Serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold.  Pass the pepper grinder at the table.

Store leftovers tightly wrapped for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

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*Want more?  Can be served or tossed with salted and peppered hot brown rice or pasta stirred together with a little oil, chopped scallions and crushed red pepper.  If you’re quite hungry and eating just the beans,  a biscuit or two, or piece of good bread, might be good. Don’t forget the butter.

Read all about cooking green beans HERE.

 

Sing a new song; I’ll try for some better pictures next time.

Alyce