Vibrant Tasty Green Beans

Vibrant Tasty Green Beans Recipe


This is one of my favorite ways to cook green beans - five ingredients, one skillet. I know some of you are married to your traditional way of cooking green beans but if you are in the market for a new version, one that doesn't involve cooking the green beans beyond recognition, give this recipe a go. It is easy enough that you could conceivably do a test run before Thanksgiving if you like. I cook green beans a couple times a week during certain seasons, and this version with its slightly quirky combination of ingredients is one I come back to over and over. It is light and bright, healthy and delicious. I simply cook a bunch of chopped leeks until they are golden and a bit crunchy, toss in some chopped dill, and then add the green beans. Do your best to not overcook them and you are all set.

Green Beans

While I've written this recipe as more of a side dish - you can easily bump it up to main dish status. I sometimes use the dilled green beans to fill omelettes (along with a bit of goat cheese). Alternately, you might toss some tofu, tempeh or seitan into the skillet (sauteed until nicely browned or golden ahead of time) along with the green beans. Or you could make a main dish salad by serving the beans over lightly dressed butter lettuce. Plenty of directions to take this one.

Green Beans

As I note in the head notes down below, this is best made to order, just before serving. I don't like hot green beans after they've been sitting around for long periods of time - they lose vibrancy, and the texture and taste changes as they sit overcooking themselves. You can make this recipe a day ahead of time by cooking the leeks and dill first and setting them aside. And instead of cooking the green beans in the skillet, blanch them in a pot of boiling, well-salted water for about a minute. Drain and dunk the beans in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside until ready to use. Combine the components before serving - you can do it at room temperature, or heated quickly in a skillet or pan before serving.

And I think this goes without saying, but do your best to seek out good green beans. I don't know what it is exactly, but I've been seeing some terrible looking green beans around. Good beans should be bright green and have a bit of snap when you bend them. Avoid leathery green beans - also avoid beans that are limp, mottled or outright mangy. I've seen the lot this year. :/

 
 
 
 

Vibrant Tasty Green Bean Recipe

The following recipe is best made just before serving time. But as I mentioned in the main post you can make/prep this ahead of time by cooking the leeks and dill first and setting them aside. Instead of cooking the green beans in the skillet, blanch them in a pot of boiling, well-salted water for about a minute. Drain the beans and dunk them in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and place the beans in a bag or bowl in the refrigerator until ready to use. When ready, combine the components - you can do it at room temperature, or heated quickly in a skillet or pan.

4 leeks, well washed, root end and tops trimmed, sliced lengthwise into quarters and then chopped into 1/2-inch segments (see photo in main post)

1/3 cup fresh dill, well chopped
3/4 pound green beans, tops and tails trimmed and cut into 1-inch segments
extra-virgin olive oil
fine-grain sea salt

In a large thick-bottomed skillet of medium-high heat add a generous splash of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and the leeks. Stir until the leeks are coated and glossy. Cook, stirring regularly until a lot of the leeks are golden and crispy. I stir every minute or two in the beginning, and more often as they brown using a metal spatula. All in all it takes me roughly 7 - 10 minutes to brown the leeks. At this point stir in the dill, and then stir in the green beans. Cook for a couple more minutes - just until the the beans brighten up and lose that raw bite. Turn out into a bowl or onto a platter and serve immediately. If you want to prepare these green beans ahead of time - read the head notes.

Serves about 6.

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Your Comments


Laurel from Simple Spoonful
November 16, 2008

I love the color and flavor of green beans. I've been hunting for a green bean recipe for Thanksgiving that's bright-tasting to go with the heavier fare. This one may be just the ticket, especially because the ingredients would pair nicely with the addition of a few snips of the overgrown marjoram that is currently terrorizing my garden!

 

Pia
November 16, 2008

For me the trick to fabulous green beans is using young ones (super thin). Usually the ones at the store are to big. The flavour and texture is completely different.

 

Cate
November 16, 2008

I'm excited by the thought of a new way to cook green beans (especially if I can add some goat cheese!) but I despise leeks (really the only vegetable I don't like). Would it ruin this recipe if I left them out?

 

Samantha
November 16, 2008

Mmmm this beats the old green bean casserole for Thanksgiving!

 

Kim
November 17, 2008

This sounds fresh and wonderful! I'll definitely be trying it out.
If anyone is interested in another tasty green bean recipe, Madhur Jaffrey's Gujerati Green Beans is a favourite in our home.

 

betty
November 17, 2008

Tried this out at once and sooo good! Added a bit of my homemade tofu and just a touch of soy sauce to please hubby though. I also prepare my green beans the same way, blanching and setting them aside until just before mixing with other ingredients. You might want to try sesame seeds, a touch of sugar and soy sauce, ground together into a paste then tossed with green beans that have been thinly sliced diagonally. In place of sesame seeds, I have also used peanut butter with good results.

 

Anonymous
November 17, 2008

You are so right about the awful state of green beans lately. The worst seem to be the ones that come in the pre-washed, hermetically sealed packages. They are often covered with rust spots!

I usually just boil green beans in salted water but one of my son's favourite ways to eat them is cooked in the oven on an oiled pan. I sprinkle the beans liberally with sea salt as they hit the preheated pan and then serve them to him as 'green bean fries.' He likes them well enough to ask me to make them often! Of course, when I use yellow beans they look more like actual french fries, but yellow beans are less often available.

 

Fit Bottomed Girls
November 17, 2008

These look delicious and perfect for Thanksgiving. I'm going to give them a go this weekend.

And I agree about seeing lots of low quality beans around this year...I wonder what's up?

 

Cate
November 17, 2008

these look fantastic! i hate the way they're traditionally cooked: till the green beans are sad little creatures with a wan green appearance.
yes, perfect for thanksgiving. or for dinner tonight.

 

this looks fantastic and it's perfect timing for some upcoming dinners we have. I get so tired of making green beans the same way so I'm excited to try this!

 

Green beans look hideous more often than not around here too! All the more reason to celebrate when I can find some good ones. I'm newly in love with leeks so this looks like a winner! Thanks!

 

jayedee
November 17, 2008

green bean casserole move over! you've just been replaced on my thankgiving table!!

 

Karen@cook4seasons
November 17, 2008

Gorgeous and (again) so seasonal. I think I'll add toasted walnuts or pine nuts for that extra crunch. Yum.

 

becky and the beanstock
November 17, 2008

I've rarely met a bean recipe I didn't like, and dilly green beans are one of my favorites. I associate the aroma and taste of dill with summer though, and even though it's available in the grocery store off season (along with kiwis and citrus and pomegranates), it just doesn't work with my palate to have dill now. Not sure why, since I do love the green beans at Thanksgiving and they're not exactly in season either. Still, i'll mark this recipe to try when the ground begins to warm again.

 

Samantha
November 17, 2008

Cook's Illustrated just did up a new one-skillet green bean recipe (no blanching and shocking) that is similar to this, but adding in some water into the hot pan after a few minutes' searing - makes for a quick steam and then you let the water evaporate at the end (throwing in some butter or vegan margarine to brown and add back more flavour). I think that technique and this recipe could be nicely married if people want their beans a little bit more well-done.

 

Erin
November 17, 2008

I don't know why people continue to eat green bean casserole when there are dishes like these around.

 

Nancy_Dancehall
November 17, 2008

Perfect! I just bought leeks yesterday and was wondering what to do with them. This looks soooo good!

 

Jessica D
November 17, 2008

I love the addition of dill in this recipe--I'm sure that really freshens up the dish. I was lucky enough to grow up having green beans cooked the right way: steamed or blanched quickly, left fresh enough so that they're still crisp. In fact, I have no trouble eating them completely raw! Another favorite of mine is roasted green beans with toasted almonds--I'm sure toasted almonds would be delicious in here too if you want the added protein.

 

lisaiscooking
November 17, 2008

This looks fresh and fabulous. And, yes, the green beans have been looking terrible here as well. Is it a bad year for green beans?

 

dave
November 17, 2008

this looks great. we've gotten some great green beans every week in our CSA box for the last month or so. we are getting a little behind eating them, so i think i am going to have to break this recipe out.

 

Katelyn
November 17, 2008

Stunning!

 

zestycook
November 17, 2008

WOW - these green beans look great! great flavors. thanks for sharing

zesty

 

bakinfool
November 17, 2008

Woooo-these bring back memories. My mother used to make green beans in a similar way using dehydrated onions (it was the 60s!) and dill weed. Delicious! I'm so sorry to hear you are all having trouble getting good green beans. Our garden blessed us with perfection and overabundance this year. Freezer is so full we had to buy a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving. Of course, the tomato crop was a failure, so I guess we'll use green beans on our pizzas this year! Thanks for the recipe and the terrific site.

 

Tess
November 17, 2008

I can't stand dill, otherwise this is amazing. What else would work? I have some fresh thyme and I love tarragon .. would you experts advise please? thanks!

 

sarah
November 17, 2008

i think i may have just found my green bean recipe for thanksgiving!

 

VeggieGirl
November 17, 2008

Vibrantly gorgeous!!

 

Hayley
November 17, 2008

I've been looking for a lighter vegetable dish for Thanksgiving, this is perfect!

Quick question, I've been working on a blog of my own, would it be alright if I posted some of your recipes with the photos of my recreations, as long as I provide a link back to your page? Thanks Again, and beautiful photos!

 

Beverly Jane
November 17, 2008

Hi Heidi, This sounds wonderful. I am afraid I am a green bean snob as is my husband. I think I will also try this with asparagus as it is easier to find in the market that is truly fresher than the awful looking green beans we have been seeing here in the Northeast of USA. Of course, our season is so short, we don't have the wonderful all round weather for fresh that you do and most of our 8 months of the year veggies come from far away. Groan.
Thanks again for your wonderful recipes. Bev

 

Darien
November 17, 2008

I've taken to splashing a bit of apple cider vinegar on all my green bean recipes...think that would be ok? On a personal note, really love the way you've made veg dishes so accessible...my folks practically inhaled the chickpeas and rice w/ tahini!

 

Sue
November 17, 2008

This sounds like a tasty variation on green beans!
Do you have a post where you've discussed your favorite skillets and pans? We need to replace some of ours and I'm interested in hearing your thoughts about what you like or dislike.

 

Jeff
November 17, 2008

What is a vibrant green bean? I'm having trouble wrapping my lexicon around that one.

The reason green beans look awful in November is because it is roughly 3 months past their prime growing season. And whether it is November or July, I never buy green beans at the store unless I plan to use them in a vegetable soup, when the quality isn't as important.

This thanksgiving I will be cooking canned beans which I canned myself fresh from the garden - in July. I have found that even food snobs, when given green beans cooked correctly in the traditional way (sans leeks, tofu, etc.) find them to be a delicious addition to any meal. AS with any food, green beans can be cooked poorly, and this is often the source of bad associations with traditional methods. I have eaten green beans many ways and I like them all, but I always come back to a pot of water, a fat pinch of salt, a thin pinch of sugar, and a slice of bacon.

 

anonymous
November 17, 2008

oh, yum!! Looks so simple yet delicious! I'll have to try this soon...maybe for thanksgiving. Thanks for all your great recipes!! :)

 

Nirvana
November 17, 2008

I adore green beans -- usually prepare them with garlic, olive oil and tomatoes here in Cairo (most Mediterranean countries make it that way). Looking forward to experimenting with this new recipe. Thanks, Heidi :)

 

Traci (Soup of The Day)
November 17, 2008

Looks great! What a nice combination.

For me, I had trouble getting good tomatoes this summer. The beans have been decent, but no good summer tomatoes :(

 

Gilda92
November 17, 2008

Up here in southwestern Ontario the green beans have looked awful for months. Even the ones grown here looked like they were brought from Isengard by Orcs! So, what is your feeling about frozen beans? I love the crispness of fresh beans, but really is there any nutrition left in the ones in the stores here in mid-November? Any suggestions for how to make the frozen ones crisp up?

 

Blonde Appetit
November 17, 2008

I stumbled upon your blog during my pesto research. I am in foodie blog heaven. I will become a loyal follower!

 

D
November 17, 2008

Sorry for this question...
4 leeks...about how many cups do you get with 4 leeks after it has been chopped? Leeks sold at the supermarket I shop at are very thick and long.

 

Lynn
November 17, 2008

Wow these look great. Sure going to be on my table for Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing.

 

CookingQueen
November 17, 2008

Tried the recipe this evening and LOVE it!

Thanks!

 

Organic Goodness
November 17, 2008

This looks so good... however I need a place for all my fennel, so hopefully that will pair well. Thanks for the ideas!

 

Michelle
November 17, 2008

I love, love leeks! Definitely going to make this one.

 

Aida
November 17, 2008

I would just add some fried garlic HUMMMM

 

K888h
November 17, 2008

It's funny how everyone comments "Wow! Great recipe! Now, here's how I'd do it differently...." Nothing wrong with that, not at all. My version of this uses shallots instead of leeks and an herb like thyme or savory. It's a wonderful way to cook beautiful fresh green beans.

 

Adrienne
November 17, 2008

Samantha mentioned the one-skillet green beans on America's Test Kitchen. Excellent way of preparing beans, which will taste great with the leeks and dill. You don't have to overcook them. They can be as green as Heidi's picture. The caramelizing adds a wonderful depth of flavor.

 

Elaine
November 18, 2008

Green beans and dill are natural partners, my father in law was very fond of a type of pickled green bean called 'dilly beans' They had just a hint of chili in them. yum.
My personal tweak to the recipe - just a little splash of lemon juice just before serving.

HS: ooh yeah, I imagine that and a touch of lemon zest would be perfect!

 

Daniel
November 18, 2008

I made these last night, and they came out great!

I used 4 huge leeks from whole foods. They really cooked down, but I had to use a big metal pan rather than a skillet (my skillet was just too small). The dill tasted great! Thanks for the recipe.

 

Zipporah
November 18, 2008

Sounds like an incredibly tasty alternative to the roasted with garlic preparation that I typically use. Thanks!

 

Ann
November 18, 2008

We're always looking for something to enliven green beans for all of the holidays to come - in our case, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas. If the flavor profile was changed a little every time (once dill, once garlic, once tarragon, maybe) we could have something fresh and green for all three BIG dinners and never see that God-awful stuff with canned french fried onions...thanks!

 

...and I have a bag of green beans in the fridge. I appreciate the exposure to a different arrangement of green bean cooking! My favorite ways, contrary to how I cook most things, are pretty plain--raw and unseasoned, or simply steamed. I'm glad that green beans are available year-round, though they're never quite as good as they are in the summer from our farmers markets!

 

Jeff--I know what you mean about questioning the use of "vibrant"; I'm a professional editor-writer, and I would put a comma in between the two modifiers. However, since it is a short phrase applied to a title, there's not more than a second of hesitation for me in reading; Heidi is using "vibrant," "tasty," and "green" as adjectives to modify "beans." She's describing the beans with those three words. Nevertheless, upon tasting it, delicious food needs little explanation. :)

 

Sifi
November 18, 2008

Thanks!
I make something very similar, but use lemon and italian parsely along with the olive oil and whatever onion suits. To make it a main dish you can throw in some water at the end and quick steam dover sole that have been draped on the top. It is great!--just stay close by because it requires timing.
I love your recipies.

 

Jackie
November 18, 2008

Thanks for delicious-sounding recipe! I like the mix of quirky ingredients, too. :)

I made one of those 5-ingredient veggie dishes tonight, but with more common ingredients: olive oil, red onion, apple, cabbage, apple cider vinegar, s&p -- sooo delicious!

 

bgochal
November 19, 2008

This is simply wonderful. Delicious and beautiful to look at. Along the lines of the made to order slant, I have bumped this up to a non vegan dish for my friend by adding salmon.

 

Hillary
November 19, 2008

Thank you for this! We were looking for a good green bean recipe for Thanksgiving - will have to make this.

 

Ana
November 19, 2008

i love green breans- this looks like a great new addition to my favorite ways to cook them. i think they would be great served over some nice crisp lettuce.

 

Charge controller
November 19, 2008

I am always amazed how a simple recipe like this always tastes so good. Love it.

 

Eileen K
November 19, 2008

I bet added some toasted almonds on top would be really tasty and add yet another interesting texture to the beans/leeks!

 

Deborah Dowd
November 19, 2008

These look really awesome! What a great alternative to green bean casserole!

 

Lael
November 19, 2008

yum! There certainly is a difference between good green beans and the bad ones. I'm going to try and hunt down some good ones and try this. Dill and leeks...how can you go wrong?!

 

Nikki Smith
November 20, 2008

I've been searching for some tasty green bean recipes, and this is one I'm really excited to try! I mentioned it in my latest recipe post.

http://www.whgmag.com/index.php/366-recipe-of-the-day-green-beans

 

Kris
November 20, 2008

Made these for dinner last night, not one left on the plate!

 

Tram
November 21, 2008

I love the combination of the veggies you used in this recipe! Will definitely try it!