Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why You Should Never Eat Canned String Beans

farmers' market string beans

If there were a contest for worst canned vegetable, chances are good that string beans would be the winner. Or beets, which are equally repugnant.

Canning is unkind to string beans. They become disturbingly gray and mushy. You can't even chew them; they just disintegrate in your mouth. As for the flavor, it's salty at best and metallic at worst. So do yourself a favor, and don't buy canned green beans. Ever. Frozen are much better, but fresh is superior in every regard.

Fresh string beans are appealing: slender, firm, and brightly hued. Though string beans are available year-round, they're especially abundant from late spring through late fall. If available, buy Blue Lake Beans. They've become the darling of chefs (many in San Diego) who prize them for their sweeter flavor and exceptional crispness.

There is one golden rule for cooking string beans: Do not overcook them. Follow that, and you're good to go. If you're not going to eat the string beans right away, the I suggest the following: Par-boil them for 2 minutes, then plunge them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain, pat dry, and store them in a plastic container in the fridge for up to a week.

Otherwise, you can boil, steam, saute, roast, or microwave string beans. Beans that are sauteed or roasted tend be more flavorful and maintain a satisfying firmness.

This Quick Corn and String Bean Saute honors the flavors of fresh string beans and corn on the cob. The lemon and fresh parsley add just the right amount of zest, making this a simple, refreshing side dish. Oh, and if you don't have fresh corn, canned is OK. Really.

Note: Food Blogga is not responsible for recipes made with canned string beans. If you choose to use canned string beans, then be prepared for dinner table revolts, particularly from children.

quick corn and string bean saute

Quick Corn and String Bean Saute
Makes 4-6 servings
Print recipe only here.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound string beans, ends trimmed
2 cup corn kernels, preferably fresh
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
a generous sprinkling of salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm oil. Add string beans, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add corn kernels, and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until brown spots begin to appear on the vegetables. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and crushed red pepper, and stir well. Add the fresh parsley, stir, and remove from heat. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Variations: Butter can be substituted for olive oil; also basil, cilantro, or mint are delicious alternatives to parsley.

You might also like these dishes featuring string beans:

String Beans with Prosciutto, Pine Nuts, and Meyer Lemon

String Beans and Tofu with Thai Peanut Butter Sauce

Warm Bulgur Salad with Beets, Fennel, and Oranges

Here are a few more:
Italian String Beans with Anchovies and Bread Crumbs at Local Lemons
Sichuan String Beans at Wandering Chopsticks
Green Beans with Basil and Almonds at From Our Home to Yours