As fall approaches, so does harvest time. Your green beans are just about ready, but what to do with the bushels you'll bring inside? Canning is one option, as is drying, freezing, and of course, eating!
Look for young, tender, long, sleek pods with beans just starting to bulge sides. Test by breaking in half; beans that will taste best snap with a pop, show no or few fibers. Aging pods turn yellow, leathery, stringy, streaked, with mealy beans inside.
Sort and snip or string, if necessary. Leave whole or cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.
To pack hot, precut whole or cut beans in boiling water until pliable (2 to 5 minutes). Pack hot into jars, standing the whole beans on ends or packing cut beans up to jar shoulder. Add salt (1/2 teaspoon for pint jars, 1 teaspoon for quarts). Cover beans in each jar with boiling water or cooking liquid, leaving 1/2 to 3/4 inch head space. Seal.
To pack raw, use pieces cut no larger than 1 inch. Pack tightly into jars up to jar shoulders. Add salt and boiling liquid as directed for hot pack.
Use only tender, stringless varieties for drying. wash thoroughly, cut in short pieces or lengthwise. To blanch, steam 5 minutes. Water 4 1/2 minutes. Test for dryness -- should be brittle.
Wash and snap off ends. Cut in 1 inch pieces, or cut lengthwise. Blanch 2 to 3 minutes. Chill. Pack in plastic freezer bags.
If you choose to keep some of your fresh bean harvest, cook up one or more of these great recipe finds.
Grilled Green Bean & Eggplant Salad
Slice eggplants into rounds 1/4" thick. Toss with green beans in balsamic vinegar. Grill 8 to 10 minutes, turning frequently.
In a large salad bowl, toss together bell peppers, greens, onions, live oil, lemon juice & 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Add salt & pepper. Arrange grilled vegetables on top. Serve immediately.
Shanghai Stir-Fried String Beans
Trim, wash and parboil beans for 2 minutes in rapidly boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Heat sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over moderate heat. Remove when seeds begin to pop. Combine the sugar, rice wine vinegar, white pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil and MSG for the seasoning mixture.
Put a wok on very high heat. When very hot, add oil, salt and then the beans and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the seasoning mixture and stir-fry for another minute. Add sesame seeds and blend well. Transfer to a heated platter.
Green Beans in Black Bean Sauce
Wash green beans and trim into bite sized pieces. Steam or microwave with a little water until just tender-crisp. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Mix together the black bean paste, soy sauce, water and corn starch until very smooth.
Heat a wok or large saucepan to medium high. Add some water and the cooked beans. When beans are heated (about 2 minutes) add the sauce. Stir constantly to coat the beans (sauce will get very thick). Serve immediately over hot cooked rice.
Louisiana Green Beans
Cook beans until tender, then add remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serves 8.
White & Green Bean Soup
Wash and pick over the dried beans. Put them into a large saucepan or kettle with the water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to stand for 1 hour.
Return to the heat and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1/2 hour. Using a heavy fork, mash the garlic with the salt until no large chunks remain. Add to the saucepan with the beans. Add the broth, pepper, and rosemary. Simmer, partially covered, until beans are tender. This can take 15 minutes or as long as 1 hour; timing for beans is hard to predict -- keep checking.
Soup can be made ahead to this point, and refrigerated or frozen after thorough cooling. Cook the green beans uncovered in 2 quarts of boiling salted water until they are tender-crisp and bright green. Drain and add to the soup when the white beans are tender but not mushy. If green beans are not to be added right away, rinse in cold water to retain color. Stir in the butter and lemon. Serve at once, while green beans are still bright.
Note: If you want some of the soup pureed, do it before adding the green beans -- the color will be better.
Serves 6 to 8.
Impossible Green Bean Pie
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 10 inch pie plate. Heat beans and 1 inch salted water (1/2 teaspoon salt to 1 cup water) to boiling. Cook uncovered 5 minutes. Cover and cook until tender, 5 to 10 minutes; drain. Mix beans, mushrooms, onion, garlic and cheese in plate. Beat remaining ingredients until smooth, 15 seconds in blender on high or 1 minute with hand beater. Pour into plate.
Bake until knife inserted between center and edge comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Old-Fashioned Green Beans
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans, brown sugar and water. Stir gently; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Remove to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon. Yield: 6-8 servings.
Dilled Pasta Salad
In a jar, combine all dressing ingredients, and shake well. Cook pasta in 3 quarts boiling water to desired doneness, adding carrots and green beans during the last 2-4 minutes or pasta cooking time. Drain. Rinse thoroughly with cold water to cool rapidly. In a large serving bowl, combine cooled pasta mixture and remaining salad ingredients. Pour dressing over salad; toss gently.
Brown Rice Pilaf with Vegetables & Garlic
Heat oil heavy large skillet over low heat. Add onion; saute until golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Add rice and garlic; saute 1 minute. Add 3 cups water and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly and cook until rice is tender and almost all liquid is absorbed, about 35 minutes; do not stir. Uncover skillet and place green beans, squash, broccoli, corn and carrot evenly over surface of rice. Cover and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in red bell pepper and sesame seeds. Mix in soy sauce. Toss to coat.
Tropical Green Beans
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush a large baking dish with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Put green beans, onion, and garlic in dish, drizzle with remaining oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring beans at least 3 times. When tender, remove beans from oven and transfer to bowl. Immediately drizzle with vinegar. Add hearts of palm, tomatoes, pine nits and pepper to taste and toss.
Dilled Green Beans & New Potatoes
In medium saucepan, bring about 2 cups water to a boil. Add potatoes and green beans; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 9-11 minutes or until beans are crisp-tender. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine all remaining ingredients; blend well. Drain vegetables; rinse with cold water to cool slightly. Place in serving bowl. Add sour cream mixture, toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving time.
Makes 8 (1/2 cup) servings.
Amanda Formaro is the entrepreneurial mother of four children. She and her husband live in southern Nevada. She is also the owner of Familycorner.com magazine.
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