The garden is coming in well, so far, and high on the production ladder are my green and yellow beans.
Growing these staples is almost always satisfying because it’s hard to grow a poor crop. Beans are always the first thing gardening experts recommended for the beginner.
Beginner or not, beans are so good in so many things, as well as nutritious and low-caloried. A cup contains just 40 calories and lots of vitamin A and potassium.
This year, I also planted pole beans for the first time. They have yet to produce, but my Provider green and yellow wax Inca Gold, are doing very well. I use both interchangeably, and prefer the yellow to the green ones. So far, some have been canned or frozen, or given to those without a garden. Others will soon be made into dilly beans.
And of course, we have eaten many with our evening meals. Green beans, in particular, pair well with so many herbs. Although I really like the New England tradition of boiling beans, draining, then sprinkling with salt and pepper, and adding a little butter and warm milk, there are so many other ways to serve them for supper.
I’ve often sautéed them whole with minced garlic or sliced onions straight from the garden, then topped a pile of pasta with the mixture. Beans can also be curried or cooked in a soup, and of course, made into that traditional Thanksgiving green bean casserole.
The young, tender ones, however, should be featured pretty much by themselves. Called Haricot vert by the French, these are tiny, very slender green beans, no longer than two or three inches.
All the flavor of a green bean is stuffed in this very small package, sort of like cooking small potatoes, which also contain such wonderful potatoey flavor in a small tuber.
Among the herbs beans particularly blend well with are dill, garlic, cumin, and tarragon. But for those who like a certain zest in their food, here’s how to curry them.
Curried Green Beans
About 1 pound young beans, left whole with both ends snipped (if older beans are used, blanch them for a minute or two, and drain well before sautéing)
1 medium to large onion, thinly sliced
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon, or more, curry powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the sliced onions and sauté for a minute. Add minced garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the beans, and a little more oil, if necessary. Saute, stirring constantly, for two or three minutes, or until tender crisp. Stir in the curry powder and sauté for another minute or two. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. These flavors go very well over cooked brown rice.
Use some of both the yellow and green beans together with nutritious pearl barley to make this summer soup.
Fresh Bean and Barley Soup (serves 6 to 8)
2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium ripe, red tomato, seeded or not, and chopped
4 to 6 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup pearl barley (not instant)
one-half pound green beans, snipped into 2-inch pieces
one-half pound yellow beans, snipped into 2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons fresh, chopped dill
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Add oil to a large soup pot, and heat. Saute the onion, celery, pepper and tomato for about 5 minutes. Add the stock and 2 cups water (if using only 4 cups stock), and bring to a boil. Add the barley, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add beans and dill and cook for about 10 minutes. Serve with salt and pepper to taste.