Friday, November 28, 2003
posted by Julie |
Green beans as a snack food
How's this for insane advice: Try replacing that bowl of chips with a bowl of green beans.
Don't roll your eyes. Don't turn the page. Don't click away. Give this a second or two more, willya?
I know. This is the sort of suggestion you'd expect from a crazed diet instructor? Who in their right mind would plunk down a big bowl of green beans where you would normally find chips?
Well, I have to tell you I did just that last week. Set down a large bowl of very lightly steamed green beans, tossed with a breath of olive oil, salt, and white pepper, on the table for my book club.
A test. I didn't tell anyone they were the subject of an experiment.
The beans were a hit. That night book club got strawberries and whipped cream cheese, steamed shrimp with a kiwi salsa, sesame crackers with a crab spread, dark chocolate no one ate, and a big bowl of steamed green beans, which they descended upon. They loved them. They returned to them again and again.
I've kept barely cooked green beans in the fridge all week, eating them warmed, eating them cold. Using them to take the edge of hunger off before cooking so I don't overeat.
They've been the hit of the household. A perfect finger food. Cheap. Incredibly easy to prepare. Easy to find.
I have steamed them (5 minutes in my steamer, no more), microwaved them (2 minutes in a container with a close-fitting lid, crack the lid for cooking, then close the lid and let them rest and steam for 3 minutes before dressing), sautéed them (non-stick skillet with just a whisper of oil, over hot flame for 3 minutes, covered off the heat for 2). I leave them with lots and lots of crunch. A very light drizzle or spray of olive oil while they're still steamy keeps them pretty. Salt and pepper to taste.
I could fuss with them more, add garlic, experiment with other seasonings. And I might. I might. But I encourage you to try them as close to their natural state as possible, eating by the bowlful, with your fingers.
I don't bother taking their stems off. Who has time? I consider crunchy green beans to be finger food, in the Emily Post-on-asparagus sense, and of course I never, ever cut off their tails. That would be cruel. Just rinse, five minutes of cooking, and they're ready. Faster than popcorn, fewer calories, and far, far more nutritious.
I know. I just set up green beans to compete with popcorn. What could I be thinking?
Well, I could be thinking nutrients. Potassium. Vitamin A. Iron. Fiber.
But I'm not. I'm thinking crunch. Flavor. I'm thinking guilt-free eating. I'm thinking green, green eats. That buzz you can actually experience in every cell of your body when you know you're fueling up with something good. No question about it, no arguments from any diet camp.
If your experience with green beans is informed by canned or frozen, chopped and overcooked, unseasoned and watery and flavorless beans served in great heaps to fill you up, divert your attention, fill your plate, fill in the green vegetable requirement without any consideration to texture, flavor, or color, then I don't blame you for thinking me nuts.
Withhold judgment until you try them fresh, barely cooked, crunchy. Those old beans are nothing like these beans. Perfect between meals. Perfect to pack in lunches. Perfect travel food. Eat them hot, cold, or at room temperature. But do give them a try as a snack food.
Great Green Bean Dig
Green Bean, Walnut, and Feta Salad Recipe
Emily's Table Manners
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