Grainy, nutty and dense? Not these beans! Green beans are long and crisp and these pairing ideas will get you inspired.
What are Green Beans?
Green beans, also known as string beans, French beans, and snap beans, are cultivars of the common bean (Phaseolus Vulgaris) and belong to the same legume family as black beans and kidney beans.
They are harvested before the bean seeds inside have fully matured, so we consume the bean in its entirety, rather than just the matured bean itself.
The common green bean is, well, as the name suggests, green and long. They get the term string beans as there is a stringy piece of fibre on the back of the bean which is commonly removed before food preparation.
Many newer strains of green beans don’t actually have a string anymore, and the only preparation required is snapping off the ends.
Green beans are in season in summer and autumn but are usually available all year round. They’re easy to prepare and quick to cook—all good reasons why they’ve become a common ingredient in dishes.
We eat so much of it, in fact, that in 2020, the world production of green beans was 23 million tonnes. That’s a lot of green beans!
Despite the name, there are yellow and purple green beans too! These 2 other varieties have a similar structure, texture, and taste to regular green beans.
The only difference is that wax (yellow) beans, as used in our king oyster mushroom salad recipe, have no chlorophyll. Green beans get their colour from chlorophyll, while yellow beans are just beans that do not have this pigment.
Purple beans (Royal Burgundy beans) are green beans in disguise! They have purple-hued skin but, when cooked, turn green. You wouldn’t be able to tell they were purple to begin with!
Check out the change of colour in this purple beans salad recipe.
All 3 variants provide the same nutrients and can be cooked interchangeably. Despite their differences in appearance, they have a similar flavour.
What Do Green Beans Taste Like?
Flavour: Green beans taste well, green! Ha! In better words, they’re fresh with grassy notes and have a sweet finish.
Texture: Fresh green beans should generally be firm and crisp and should make an audible cracking sound when broken.
The goal when preparing green beans is never to overdo it when cooking—cook until they’re just tender on the inside but still have a snappy, crunchy bite. Overcooking them will also cause them to lose their stunning bright green colour.
What Goes Well with Green Beans?
Fruit and Vegetables
Capsicum, carrot, celery, fava beans, fennel, garlic, ginger, lemon, lentil, mushroom, onion, potato, pumpkin, radish, shallot, tomato.
Herbs and Nuts
Almond, basil, dill, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, pecan, tarragon.
Protein and Dairy
Bacon, beef, buffalo mozzarella, butter, chicken, fish, parmesan, pork, prawn, turkey.
Balsamic vinegar, curry, soy sauce.
How to Use Green Beans in Salads and Side Dishes?
Green beans are versatile a fruit, botanically speaking, but we eat them like a vegetable, and they are sold fresh, canned and frozen. They can be eaten raw or steamed, boiled, stir-fried, baked, grilled or roasted. You can see why there are so many green bean recipes out there!
Green beans often provide freshness and crunchy texture to salads. They are usually eaten raw or quickly blanched like in this roast chicken potato salad.
It’s always best to use fresh green beans for salads, not canned or frozen ones. Also, don’t overdo the cooking; otherwise, they will lose their crunchy texture and vibrant green colour.
Green beans are commonly cooked in side dishes such as soups, stir-fries or simply blanched and topped with flavourful toppings.
Green beans are particularly popular in the northern US as a side dish, particularly at Thanksgiving.
You’ll find green bean casseroles, roasted green beans, blistered green beans, grilled green beans, glazed green beans, fried green beans, garlic green beans…goodness; we sound a lot like Bubba and his love for shrimp on Forrest Gump!
But you get the gist; there are many ways to prepare fresh green beans for a healthy and delicious side dish.
Salads and Side Dishes with Green Beans
Spicy, pungent and full of flavour, this delicious lemongrass chilli green beans stir fry is totally worth sharing with everyone.
Add a touch of gourmet to an otherwise easy recipe. Your guests will be so impressed with the delectable truffle tones in this Quail Egg Salad.
Salad Nicoise is a quintessential French salad recipe that showcases everything you would want in a salad. Combining canned tuna, fresh tomatoes, green beans, eggs, potatoes and olives the flavours are delicious and satisfying. Big enough to be a meal but easily shared between friends.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fresh green beans usually come prepackaged in plastic bags or loose. When sold loose, this gives you a chance to select the best quality beans. The best ones are bright green, firm when bent gently and feel smooth. Avoid beans that have blemishes, wrinkles or dry divots.
Green beans also come frozen or canned. Frozen green beans are good for stir-fries, soups and quite a number of other dishes, as long as they are cooked and there’s less importance placed on the colour of the green beans.
Canned green beans are very convenient but the texture is soft and wilted and comes murky green. Although they are not suitable for most salads, canned green beans are a good choice if obtaining fresh green beans is a no-go.
The best way to store fresh green beans and retain their freshness is in the fridge. Wrap them tightly in the plastic freezer bag and store green beans in the fridge for up to a week. This will help retain their moisture, vibrant green colour and healthy nutrients.
To simply blanch fresh green beans, place washed and trimmed green beans in boiling water, then on medium heat, boil for 3-5 minutes. Boiled green beans are best with some bite and have retained their bright green colour. Adding a little salt to the water helps with this process.
More Ingredients Pairing Ideas:
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