Here’s a fun fact, technically, these little green beans tucked inside their edible green pods are neither a fruit nor a vegetable. Beans are classified as legumes, a type of plant that produces edible fruits and seeds. Snow peas, string beans, sugar snap peas, green peas, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas and fava beans are all types of legumes. However they’re labeled, legumes are a healthy, low-fat way to add protein and fiber to a diet and are popular additions to vegetarian dishes for that very reason.
Although the term “green beans” is a very commonplace and familiar way to refer to this remarkable leguminous vegetable, green beans are actually known by a wide variety of names. Green beans are described as having a crisp texture and a mildly sweet, grassy flavour. They are one of any number of beans that are eaten fresh, such as string bean and the wax or yellow bean (obviously not green at all). All can be eaten raw, briefly cooked – so that they remain crunchy – or cooked to complete tenderness. You can leave beans whole, simply snapping off the stem end, or cut them to any length you like.
Best cooking methods You name it-steaming, simmering, stir-frying, sautéing, roasting, braising.
When is it done? Your choice: Crisp-tender and still crunchy, or cooked to melting tenderness.
Sold year round, beans are at their peak in flavour and nutrition in summer, when they’re most likely to be local. Although beans appear to keep well, meaning they don’t shrivel or rot very quickly, they lose their best flavour almost as fast as tomatoes. Buy beans that snap rather then fold when you bend them in half, and avoid any with browning or other obvious signs of spoilage. Store, loosely wrapped in plastic, in the vegetable bin, and use as soon as possible, preferably within a day. If possible, purchase green beans at a store or farmer’s market that sells them loose so that you can sort through them to choose the beans of best quality. Green beans are in season June through to November in Ontario.
Spicy Green Bean and Mango Salad
It's bright, red, gold and green and not your typical mango salad!
- 3 cups (450g) green beans
- 2 ripe mangos, sliced
- 1 cup (150g) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 3 stalks green onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup peanuts, crushed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
- 1 chili pepper, minced (optional)
Bring a pan of water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook for up to 2 minutes, until bright green and tender crisp. Drain, then plunge them into a bowl of iced water to halt the cooking process. Drain again. Trim the ends and slice the beans in half length wise. Place them in a large bowl and set aside.
Peel the mangos and slice into long, thin strips. Add this to the green beans along with the tomatoes, green onion and peanuts.
Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, tamari, sugar, and chili to make a dressing. Pour over the salad, toss and serve.
This salad can be made and dressed ahead of time and left to chill and marinate in the fridge for up to 3 hours.
Add an extra layer of flavour with crispy fried shallots. Peel and thinly slice the shallots. Dredge them in flour. Fry for 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
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