Perhaps I’ve mentioned this before, but green beans grow insanely well in my garden. Perhaps it’s a Northeast thing or perhaps its just our soil, but once those suckers start coming, they come fast and in quantity.
Not that I’m complaining. Fresh green beans are a great treat that only come around once a year. My family winds up blanching and freezing most of them, which is delightful when you need green beans in the dead of winter, but it’s not the same. For some recipes, you just plain need the fresh ones.
This year, we not only planted green beans but also yellow and purple ones. That’s been a real treat to see, the trio of colors going into the pan when we’re putting them up or when I’m tossing them into a dinner recipe. Oddly enough, the purple ones turn green when you cook them, which I’d heard about but had never seen. Turns out it’s because the anthocyanins that create the purple color are pH sensitive (Why do purple beans…, n.d.). Cooking changes the pH of the plant cells and these pigments break down, so what you see is the green hiding underneath.
Green beans are rich in carotenoid compounds such as lutein and beta-carotene as well as flavanoids including quercetin, catechins and epicatechins. They’re a good source of vitamin K, manganese, vitamin C and B vitamins including B2 and folate. What this boils down to is you getting a whole lot of antioxidant bang for your buck.
Just one cup of cooked green beans also gives you 22% of your daily value of vitamin K–an often overlooked nutrient that is essential for bone health (Green beans, n.d.). Couple that with their high fiber content and you’ve got one heck of a healthy seasonal vegetable!
But you’re probably not thinking about antioxidants when you’re looking at a fresh batch of green beans. You’re probably thinking, “Can I eat them now??” Yes, you can. In this recipe, in fact!
Adapted from Robin Robertson’s 1,000 Vegan Recipes, this dish is a great way to make use of an abundance of beans. And tomatoes, as a matter of fact. If you’ve got fresh ones on hand, go ahead and substitute 3 cups of medium-sized chunks and a bit of water for the canned diced tomatoes. You could make the dish even more colorful with a bunch of lovely heirloom varieties!
Fennel and basil give the recipe a decidedly Italian flair, so I served it over pasta. Try penne, linguine or rotini…or go whole grain with some quinoa instead!
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1lb. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1.5 cups cooked or 1 15.5oz. can small white beans, drained and rinsed if canned
- 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1/4tsp. ground fennel
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- Place the onion in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add splashes of water to the pan if necessary to keep the onions from sticking. Stir in the garlic and cook, uncovered, for 2 more minutes.
- Add the green beans and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, white beans and fennel. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then uncover and cook for 5 minutes more, until the beans are tender.
- Stir in the basil and taste for seasoning. Serve hot over pasta or quinoa!
Green beans. (n.d.). World’s Healthiest Foods. Retrieved from: http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=134
Why do purple beans turn green after cooking? (2013 July 17). Garden Betty. Retrieved from http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/07/why-do-purple-beans-turn-green-after-cooking/