Saturday, May 15, 2010

Green beans with garlic

Spring brings with it an explosion of flavor in fresh produce. Farmers’ markets stock a dizzying array in nearly every color in the rainbow. Suddenly, eating your vegetables doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. One of my favorite veggies is the lovely green bean, or if you’re a little bit Southern you know them as snap beans. Low in calories and packed with vitamins and nutrients, green beans add a satisfying crunch to your salad. But you can only eat so many raw green beans before you crave a bit more flavor.

In my kitchen that flavor comes from oil, and growing up in an Italian household means there’s only one kind of oil on my shelf: extra virgin olive oil. I used it to sautĂ© garlic and onions before turning them into marinara sauce, with a dash of lemon zest to create shrimp scampi, and as a dip for fresh bread. Thankfully, extra virgin olive oil is one of the good guys in the world of fats. This flavorful way to increase your good cholesterol is available in most supermarkets. Because oil standards are not heavily regulated look for the words “extra virgin” or “first cold press” on the label, avoid the words “light” and “mild”.

There are lots of ways to enjoy the heart-healthy benefits of extra virgin olive oil and the vitamin powerhouse green beans. You can dunk the green beans raw in just a little oil. You can combine the oil with a few other staples as a dressing for a lightly steamed green bean salad. One of my favorite ways is the recipe below, which blends the extra virgin olive oil with garlic. While this recipe is for green beans, you can substitute chickpeas, broccoli, or your favorite Spring vegetable.

Green beans tossed with extra virgin olive oil and garlic

2 cups fresh green beans
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves (1½ teaspoons) chopped garlic

Wash green beans and prepare for cooking by snapping off the ends. Steam lightly using a steamer or blanch briefly in boiling water. If blanching, use a pot of ice water to stop the cooking process so the green beans remain crisp.

Place the green beans into the bottom of a large serving bowl. Add the next two ingredients, tossing to coat. Serve promptly or encourage diners to re-toss as the garlic and oil will collect on the bottom of the bowl.

(I love the strong flavor of garlic so when there’s no company coming to dinner, I use two tablespoons of garlic. Feel free to adjust the amount based on your own personal tastes.)

What are you finding in your farmers’ market? Got any new twists on the old favorites? Or any new finds that we all have to check out?

When she’s not cooking, buying, or dreaming about food Rachel Kleinsorge writes steamy paranormal mystery romances. She is currently waiting for the call from her agent, the amazing Carolyn Grayson, while working on her next novel.


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