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Vail seasonal: Beans incredibly easy to grow

Sue Barham
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail seasonal: Green beans are packed with nutritional benefits, vitamin K (for strong bones), vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and dietary fiber
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VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Beans are incredibly easy to grow, Vail Valley. They are also a versatile choice in planning your garden. You can decide whether you would like your beans to grow on a bush (bush beans) or to climb up a support (pole beans). Either way, they are low maintenance and produce a healthy yield.

Formerly known as string beans, due to a tough string running down one side, current varieties of beans are usually very tender. Haricots verts are the choice of many chefs for their delicate texture and slender shape.

Home cooks may have difficulty finding them, but the common varieties of green and yellow beans are abundant. Choose firm beans when you shop, they should have a crunchy snap if you break one in half.

You may happen upon purple beans, very pretty in their raw state. Heat and water will turn these into the regular green bean, so to keep the purple color, try butter basting them as your cooking method.

Green beans are actually immature legumes – they are harvested before they are allowed to dry and mature. They are packed with nutritional benefits, vitamin K (for strong bones), vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and dietary fiber.

Preparing green beans is simple and they make great accompaniments to any main course. Equally delicious in salads or side dishes, their hearty texture complements a variety of other vegetables, nuts and grains.

Jeremy Kittelson, Avondale’s executive chef, adds green beans to a summer classic – panzanella.

“It’s the combination of two veggie favorites – green beans amandine and Italian bread salad. We serve it as a side dish with fish, but it could stand alone as a vegetarian entree.”

1 pound fresh or frozen green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces

1/4 cup slivered almonds

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, cover beans with water and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the beans are crisp-tender; drain and set aside. In a large skillet, cook almonds in butter over low heat. Stir in lemon juice. Add beans and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cups stale Italian bread, torn into cubes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1/2 cup sliced black olives

1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced

1/2 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped

For the vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar

1/2 cup fruity olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, olives, and basil. Add green beans amandine if desired. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend. Serves 8.

6 T AP Flour

2 T Cornstarch

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 egg white

1/2 c water

Vegetable oil for frying

1 pound fresh green beans

Boil beans to crisp tender. Whip egg white to soft peak. Fold in dry ingredients. Add water and mix to combine. Heat oil in a deep skillet to 350 degrees. Coat beans individually in batter and drop into hot oil. Cook to a light golden brown. Serve with sundried tomato aioli for dipping. (Mix diced oil-packed sun dried tomatoes with mayonnaise.)

Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur, at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American Classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale opened in September 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa and features a West Coast inspired, market driven menu.


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