I really like green beans. I don’t think I cared for them so much when I was a kid but I’ve grown to appreciate them as an adult. It’s probably more a vegetable of pleasant texture than defined flavour but that means you can do quite a lot of cool things with them either on their own (who doesn’t like them just steamed and buttered?) or as part of an ensemble cast of veges in a tasty casserole.
So far my children like green beans straight-up. I remember my son meticulously opening up the pod to reveal the tiny seeds inside. I suggested that they were little bean babies nestled into a long canoe boat, which the toddler Master 7 thought was delightful before proceeding to eat the lot. Whatever gets them to eat vegetables right?
Since finding a crop of Kipfler potatoes in my backyard after casually throwing two old ones into a vege patch eight weeks prior, I’ve become a bit interested in how vegetables grow. If you’d like a basic overview of what beans are, please read this. It seems green beans are really one of few beans whose pods are also edible. I can only off-hand think of snow peas as another one (if indeed it is technically a bean). I also learned that a lot of beans must be cooked through with some being quite poisonous if eaten raw (eg – Lima beans). <end biology lesson>
I thought I’d post two green bean recipes here that I quite like and are significantly different to each other, hence the East/West reference. One recipe is a Japanese side-dish (okazu) favourite of steamed green beans tossed in a white sesame sauce (ingen no goma ae). If you have made Japanese meat based dishes before (like teriyaki chicken), you may have wondered what Asian-style sides or vegetables to serve with them. These beans are easy to prepare and match Japanese mains wonderfully.
For my Western style green bean dish, I decided to borrow some ideas from the Spanish chicken I made some months ago. Originally, I had wanted to try making something like the green bean casserole featured on the show Jon & Kate Plus Eight (don’t judge me). The idea of a green bean casserole captivated me for months but when I finally got around to finding the recipe by Emeril Lagasse, I discovered that it wasn’t quite what I had imagined. I don’t doubt that Emeril’s casserole tastes sensational but if you look at the recipe you’ll see that it’s quite involved and requires ingredients (and Emeril products) that I’ve got no chance of finding readily from Perth.
I’ll somehow give Emeril’s green bean casserole a go one day but for the time being, I made one that involved a lot of the same ingredients from the chicken dish and it turned out a treat. I served some up with a nice steak for hubby as a replacement for the usual steamed vegetables or salad I dish out. I can see this casserole going nicely with fish (maybe a Spanish style smoked cod?) and I even enjoyed it on its own.
I wonder how else green beans are cooked in other cultures?
Green Beans With White Sesame
200g of green beans, washed and ends trimmed
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp soy milk (yes, soy milk…)
1 tsp of sugar (or to taste)
2 tbsp milled, roasted white sesame (if you have a Thermomix, roast and mill as per fennel seeds etc.)
1 tsp (or to liking) extra roasted white whole sesame (roast three tbsp for the above and reserve one before milling rest)
To Make: Mix soy sauce, soy milk, sesame (milled and whole) and sugar together in small bowl. Once beans are steamed, pour mixure over beans and combine. Serve while warm although this can be eaten cold also.
Green Beans with Spanish Flavours
200g green beans, washed and ends trimmed
2 to 3 kiplfer potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup diced Spanish onions
1 cup diced green capsicum
1 cup diced red capsicum
1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup thinly sliced and diced jamón Serrano (Spanish cured ham – use Italian prosciutto if sans jamón)
½ teaspoon sweet pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
1 cup plain canned tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
To Make: Pre-heat oven to 180C. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in frypan over medium-high heat and add the diced onion and capsicum. Reduce the heat to low and cook slowly for about 2 minutes. The vegetables will cook further in oven so it doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through. Add the garlic and cook for 5 more minutes before adding the white wine and cooking until it evaporates. Add the jamón and cook for another minute. Stir in the pimentón, tomato sauce and bay leaf, then transfer ingredients to casserole dish. Add potatoes and green beans to casserole dish and stir through the sauce. Place in oven for 20 minutes or until potato pieces and beans are tender.