String beans, also called green beans, belong to the same family as other shell beans such as navy or black beans, but these are eaten fresh and harvested before they have matured. They are plentiful in the summer months and delicious steamed, braised and roasted. Haricot verts, which is French for thin green beans, can also be delicious raw or quickly sautéed with a bit of butter or olive oil.
This recipe makes good use of the bigger, fatter greens beans, which are often tougher and can lack depth of flavor. Don’t be alarmed by the end product—the high heat of the oven makes for a less-than-pretty finished product, but these beans are sweet and flavorful and are reminiscent of the terrific green beans included in Chinese dishes. I often serve these green beans as an appetizer, along with a simple yogurt dill sauce, or as a simple finger food with cocktails.
Blistered String Beans
1 pound washed green beans, stem ends removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Spread green beans on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Drizzle string beans with olive oil, generously sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss well with hands or tongs, and spread beans on baking sheet.
- Roast string beans for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and toss well, then continue roasting for another 10 minutes or so, until the beans shrivel and darken.
- Garnish with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
- Blistered String Beans with Cheese. Top the cooked beans with crumbled blue, goat or feta cheese.
- Blistered String Beans with Nuts. Top the cooked beans with toasted slivered almonds or walnuts, with or without the addition of crumbled cheese, for extra flavor and texture.
- Blistered String Beans with Extra Sweetness. Add a bit of honey or maple syrup halfway through cooking if you want extra sweetness. A touch of grated ginger can also be added at this stage.
Using either aluminum foil or parchment paper provide two benefits when cooking with high heat: it provides for easy clean-up, and it protects the beans from any burning that can happen if they are placed directly on a baking sheet.
String beans have been harvested for thousands of years, dating back to 6000 BC. They are a good source of vitamins A and C. String beans also contain folate, which may help with depression and improve fertility. No wonder many consider it a very happy vegetable!
A vegetable-based appetizer is a good choice as a first course or as an accompaniment to cocktails—and a chance to get another serving of vegetables in is always a good idea. Try this alternative to the ubiquitous raw crudité platter.