If you’re thinking of potato salad for game day, how about upping the flavor, color, texture and nutrition with green beans, a.k.a. string beans and snap beans (more about that below).
Fresh green bean crops are harvested year-round, but are best in early winter, early summer and early fall. Beans picked early in the season are smaller and sweeter. As they mature, they lose flavor and get thicker and tougher.
“The combination of green beans and red potatoes, sometimes known as Green Beans Pierre, is one of my go-to side dishes,” SAYS Preci D’Silva, who contributed the recipe to Taste Of Home.
The recipe calls for dried herbs, but trust us: fresh herbs give a much more wonderful punch of flavor. You can use a combination of fresh and dried, depending on what you have on hand (e.g., fresh basil and parsley, dried tarragon). While this recipe uses an oil and vinegar dressing, you can also add green beans into mayonnaise-dressed potato salad.
While the recipe was developed to serve warm, it is equally delicious at room temperature. Prep time is 30 minutes.
RECIPE: WARM GREEN BEAN & POTATO SALAD
Ingredients For 10 Servings
1 pound small red potatoes, quartered
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon each garlic powder, ground mustard and pepper
1/8 teaspoon each dried basil, parsley flakes and tarragon
1 pound fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped onion
Add crunch and flavor to potato salad. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.
*We love balsamic vinegar so much that we often use it, even though it adds a dark color. White balsamic, created to solve this problem, isn’t real balsamic, and doesn’t taste anything like it. Here’s more about balsamic vinegar.
1. PLACE the potatoes in a large saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile…
2. WHISK together the oil, vinegar and seasonings in a large bowl.
3. ADD the green beans to the pot of potatoes; return to a boil. Cook 3-5 minutes longer or until the vegetables are tender. Drain.
4. ADD to the dressing and toss to coat. Stir in the tomatoes and onion. Serve warm.
Before breeding eliminated it, green beans had a fibrous “string” atop the long ridges and were known as string beans. Photo courtesy Burpee.
GREEN BEANS OR STRING BEANS: THE DIFFERENCE
String beans got their name because they originally had a string, a tough fiber that ran from one tip to the other. The string had to be removed before cooking. The task was onerous enough that the string was bred out of most varieties. But the name, handed down from generation to generation, lives on.
The beans also got the name of snap beans, because when you bend them, they snap.
There are two types of green beans:
Bush beans, which have a rounded pod (see photo).
Pole beans, which are usually large and relatively flat.
Pole beans are also more tender, so if you have a choice, go for the flat beans.
But whether bush or pole, raw green beans are tender enough to be eaten raw. They are a standard on our crudité platter, and whenever we have them on hand, we add them to green salads, other vegetable salads, grain salads and protein salads (chicken, egg, tuna, etc.).
HOW TO HANDLE GREEN BEANS
Here’s advice from Produce Pete:
Selection: Choose small to medium-size pods that are velvety-looking and bright green, with no signs of wilting or wrinkling. If you’re not sure of the freshness, bend one and see if it snaps. If it’s rubbery and bends, it’s past its prime.
Storage: Don’t wash green beans (or any produce) until you’re ready to use them. While it’s always best to use them as soon as you buy them, you can refrigerate them in a paper bag an or unsealed plastic bag for a day or two. If you’ve had them longer and they start to wilt, you may be able to revive them in ice-cold water. Otherwise, you can purée them or add them to soups or stews.
Preparation: To cook, simply steam or cook in a small amount of water in a covered pan for five to eight minutes (we steam them in the microwave), adding a dab of butter (or good olive oil), salt and pepper. Don’t overcook or you’ll get a canned green bean flavor.
Freezing: String beans freeze well if blanched for two minutes before freezing.