I am fairly certain that everyone I know has, at one point or another, had green beans from a can. And I don’t necessarily mean from the cellar that was “put up” for later, though that certainly would count as a canned green bean. Instead, I’m thinking about the industrial number 10 size can full of “mixed vegetables” in half inch bite size pieces that every child has had presented to them on a school lunch tray. And since they are cooked in the can to eliminate pathogens, the flavor and texture take a mortal blow. Regardless of canning techniques improving in recent years, many people still have a negative opinion about anything green on their plate, whether it be a bean, pea or leaf.
It doesn’t help that when you can buy “fresh” green beans that they have usually been sitting around far too long and the sugar within is starting the conversion to starch, resulting in a tough and stale bean. You are probably better off buying frozen beans if you want them to resemble those which are freshly picked, as the beans are frozen right after harvesting to ensure the best flavor and texture.
While many people saute their beans, I’ve found that quickly roasting them at high heat really improves the flavor of the mediocre ones which are usually available. In what follows, I present the way I like to roast my green beans- but keep in mind this recipe can easily be modified to accommodate different tastes and ingredients on hand. Roast the beans with whatever you like and top with a light dusting of Parmesan cheese and dollop of premium extra virgin olive oil. You’ll rethink your stance on green beans, believe me!
- 1.5 lbs. green beans, trimmed.
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed.
- 4 ounces pancetta, diced.
- 1 lemon, squeezed and juice reserved.
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved.
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
- Kosher salt
- Ground Black Pepper
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Heat oven to 500 degrees.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminium foil. Rub the foil down with 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil or other flavorless oil which can withstand high heat.
- On the baking sheet, toss the beans, garlic and pancetta, mixing well. Once coated with oil, spread mixture into an even layer. Salt and pepper to visual satisfaction and then insert pan into oven for ~12 minutes.
- Once beans are browned and pancetta crisp, remove pan from oven. Stir in halved tomatoes and drizzle with lemon juice and one tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and stir well. Top with Parmesan and serve.