How to Cook Fresh Green Beans
Fresh green beans are readily available during most of the year and are easy to prepare. When you’re shopping for green beans, look for ones that are plump and snap when you break them. Avoid withered or dark green beans. While some people may simply grab handfuls of greens beans when buying them, taking the time to individually select the freshest beans makes a lot of sense. The first step in how to cook fresh green beans is to get the freshest and plumpest green beans.
Prepare your green beans by rinsing them first and discarding the stems and any withered beans. Remove the ends of each bean. Plan on cooking green beans whole in most of your green bean dishes. More of the nutrients in green beans are lost in the cooking process when cut or shredded.
The simplest, yet most elegant, way to cook fresh green beans is to steam them. Steamed green beans are never immersed in water, and the nutrients remain locked in the beans. Put several inches of water in the bottom of a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Place the steamer in the pot and make sure the steamer sits above the level of the water. Cover the pot and cook the beans for ten minutes. Take a green bean out of the steamer, let it cool and try it. The secret for how to cook fresh green beans is to taste them during the cooking process. Never rely on a recommended cooking time. Serve steamed green beans with butter or lemon.
Braised green beans can have an Asian flair. Pour a small amount of toasted sesame oil in a heavy frying pan. Place the pan on a medium to high heat and heat the oil until a drop of water sizzles and dances in the pan. The trick to how to cook fresh green beans Asian-style is to sufficiently heat the oil before adding the beans. The beans will not absorb the heated oil. Continually stir and whisk the beans around in the pan to cook them evenly and avoid charring. As you stir them, they will begin to wrinkle and soften. Sample a cooled green bean every few minutes to avoid overcooking. Try adding soy or red pepper sauce to the beans as they are cooking, or before serving them, for a spicier dish.
Julienne beans a Gratin can add a gourmet touch to a meal. After removing the ends, use a paring knife to cut each bean lengthwise into slivers. Julienne-cut beans need only a few minutes of steaming. Remove them from the heat and place them in a baking dish. Cover the beans with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper and dots of butter. You also can add toasted and buttered bread crumbs to the grated cheese topping. Set your oven to 425 degrees and bake the dish for 20 minutes, or until the topping is bubbling and browned. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.