Five Ways to Eat Green Beans | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian

Five Ways to Eat Green Beans

To prove their versatility, here are five out-of-the-ordinary ideas for cooking with green beans, each from a different world culture

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Green beans. Image courtesy of Flickr user Wally Hartshorn

Green beans are a workhorse vegetable: nothing flashy, rarely the star, but always dependable in a supporting role. They’re versatile, too—they’ll work well with just about any cuisine—which is a good thing, since I am probably not alone in having a mountain of them growing in my garden right now. They’re also abundant at the market, farmers’ or otherwise.

To prove their versatility, here are five out-of-the-ordinary ideas for cooking with green beans, each from a different culture:

1. Southern. Bacon grease “brings out the best in folks—and beans,” writes Christy Jordan on her Southern Plate blog, in a recipe for sweet and sour green beans that also includes vinegar and sugar. Unless you’re a stickler for authenticity, you don’t even have to “cook the living mess” out of them, as Jordan explains that Southerners are wont to do.

2. Greek. Ask three Greeks how to cook green beans and you’ll get three different fasolakia recipes, as recounted in an amusing tale at the site Mama’s Taverna. Most of them (including this one) involve stewing the beans in tomatoes, onions, and sometimes potatoes until sweet and tender.

3. Persian. In Iran, a kuku (or kookoo) is a popular frittata-like egg dish, packed with herbs and/or green vegetables. The Persian food blog Turmeric and Saffron uses those signature spices in a recipe for green bean kookoo.

4. Indian. The Book of Yum compiles gluten-free vegetarian recipes from around the globe. But an Indian-inspired dish of “ambrosial green beans,” with a spiced cashew-yogurt sauce, would appeal to even those without dietary restrictions.

5. Chinese. Dry-fried green beans or long beans are a common feature on Chinese restaurant menus. The cooking method results in ultra-flavorful beans that retain their snap— Cooking with Amy explains how to make them at home.

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About Lisa Bramen
Lisa Bramen

Lisa Bramen was a frequent contributor to Smithsonian.com's Food and Think blog. She is based in northern New York and is also an associate editor at Adirondack Life magazine.

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