While one of the most iconic uses for the ever-popular green bean is in a creamy casserole at the holidays, fresh beans purchased in season at your local market can’t be beat. Their peak season is June through September, when you can find them in grocery stores, farmers markets and roadside stands.
Green beans are a tasty, low-calorie and nutrient-rich vegetable. Just a half-cup of green beans (45 calories) delivers 4 grams of fiber and 14 percent of the Daily Value for both vitamin C and folate, a B vitamin important for the healthy growth of new cells.
Look for fresh, crisp beans.
Also called snap beans or string beans, green beans actually come in a range of colors, from green to yellow to purple. When buying fresh green beans, look for brightly colored beans that appear fresh, are tender but firm, and snap easily when bent.
Some beans might be labeled “Haricots verts” or “string beans.” Haricots verts is simply French for “green beans.” However, the term is often used for the very slender beans, also called French beans (not to be confused with frozen french-cut green beans), found in the produce section of many large supermarkets.
Green beans are sometimes called string beans because most types used to have a long fibrous string that ran along the bean’s seam. For the most part, these seams have been bred out of commercial varieties.
Use them in a wide range of dishes.
It’s easy to add beautiful color to a dish with green beans. Toss green beans with pasta for an easy hot or cold supper or simply sauté some market-fresh green beans with garlic for an easy, healthy side dish. When a recipe calls for green beans, most likely it means the ones that are green in color — although any color will work.
Store them in the fridge, but use within a week.
Refrigerate in a plastic bag for three to five days.
(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)
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