Green Beans – Healthy Casserole or Easy Saute

Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables and are enjoyed throughout the world. They are made up of small seeds in long pods. Because beans are harvested while still young, the green pods are tender and edible. They are available with a peak season of May to October.

Green beans grow on vines or bushes. If you are buying them, look for green beans that are loose rather than in packages so you can pick the freshest ones. They should be crisp and bright green, without blemishes or signs of wilting. Although they taste best if eaten right away, green beans can be refrigerated in a sealed plastic bag for up to five days or prepared in the method called “sous vide” for up to 30 days or longer.

As members of the “legume family,” peas and beans are among the third largest family in the vegetable kingdom behind the vanilla bean and the sunflower family. I have also learned that legumes contain many extraordinary attributes that are good for you as an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and as a cardiovascular benefit. They are also a helpful food for providing us with the mineral silicon which is very important for bone health and for healthy formation of connective tissue.

In fact, beans are noteworthy for being among the oldest cultivated plants that have replaced meat and nurtured people throughout history. Further they contain low to moderate glycemic index (GI) numbers while containing a lot of protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Given the appreciation beans hold for people all over the world, I thought it might be fun to take a closer look at a recipe from Syria and another version of the classic Green Bean Casserole with less sodium and fat. I know these recipes to be delicious. Enjoy them throughout the year.

Recipe #1

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Syrian Green Bean Sauté

Serves 4-6

4 cups fresh cut green beans, cut 1 inch long
Sea Salt and Ground Pepper to taste                                                                      
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro                                                                                        2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

1. Wash the green beans well and rinse in a colander. Without drying them, place the green beans into a large pot, and drizzle with olive oil.

2. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and put the lid on the pot.

3. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until beans are turning brown.

4. Continue steaming in their own moisture which also retains more nutrients.

5. Add cilantro and garlic, and cook until cilantro has started to wilt. Eat as a main course with warm pita bread and hummus or serve as a side dish.


Recipe #2

Healthy Vegetarian Green Bean Casserole (without the bacon, onion powder, and sodium in store-bought soup)

Serves 6

1 large onion, cutting half diced and half pureed in a blender
½ cup chopped crimini mushrooms
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup milk (2 percent fat)
¼ cup Italian breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
4 cups cut fresh green beans
2 tablespoons crushed French’s French Fried Onions (or make your own caramelized version)

1. Combine the heavy cream, milk, breadcrumbs, mushrooms, onion, black pepper, soy sauce and green beans in a 1½-quart casserole.

2. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture.

3. Top with French Fried onions. Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.

Chef Allan Zox

 

Check out Zox’s Kitchen on www.longislandweekly.com for more recipes. Visit www.zoxkitchen.com for details about past columns.

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