18 August 2006

Great-Tasting Green Beans

Posted in food at 10:30 pm by Tricia

If you like Indian food at all, or want a new way to prepare green beans, try this recipe. I’ve been making it every other week since green beans came into season at our CSA. Like many of my favorites, it’s from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian (read a book review at Epicurious). Serve it with rice and/or naan, and curry or an Indian lentil or chickpea dish (or some “indian food from a box” or can, such as available at Trader Joe’s if you’re pressed for time), and you’re golden. It reheats well.
Another nice addition to the meal is “speedy raita” – peel, deseed, and chop a cucumber. Toss with plain unsweetened yogurt, a teaspoon of mustard seeds, some cumin (up to 1 tsp), and some cayenne if you want the heat.

The action is fast and furious at the beginning, so have everything (or at least everything up to tomato and cilantro) in place before you begin cooking. Once the prep work is done, it takes about 15 minutes to cook.

Green Beans with Cumin and Fennel

2 to 3 Tab peanut or canola oil
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds (i’ve been using anise seeds)

2 good-sized shallots or 1 small onion (about 1.5 oz), peeled and cut into fine slices
1 garlic clove, peeled and cut into fine slices
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into very fine slivers

1 lb green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
1 1/4 tsp salt

1 small tomato (2 oz), chopped
3 Tab finely chopped fresh cilantro (I’ve never had any on hand!)

Put the oil in a large frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When very hot, add the cumin and fennel seeds and stir for a few seconds. Quickly add the shallots, garlic, and ginger (I mix these in one bowl ahead of time). Stir for about a minute, or until lightly browned. Add the beans and stir another 2 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne (again, I mix these in a small bowl ahead of time) and stir a few times. Add 1/2 cup of water and the salt and bring to a simmer. Stir and cover. Turn the heat to low and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the tomato and cilantro. Stir, cover, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until the beans are tender.



  1. Michele said,

    This looks really good, we’ll have to try it, and we even have cilantro on hand (in fact I think we have all the ingredients in the house at the moment). I keep some in the refrigerator in a jar of water with a loose plastic bag on top pretty much all the time. I make mexican cole slaw at least once a week so keep it for that and then use it for other things too.

  2. jonskifarms said,

    Mexican cole slaw? That sounds intriguing!

  3. Michele said,

    It’s a really simple recipe that I adapted from Eating Well magazine (June/July 2005 issue). Instead of cutting up cabbage and carrots I used a bag of cole slaw mix (then I can literally throw it together for lunch at the last minute, which is often what happens- the only thing that takes any time at all is washing and chopping up the cilantro).

    6 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1/2 head)
    1 1/2 cups peeled and grated carrogs (2-3 medium)
    (or use 1 bag of pre-cut cole slaw mix instead of cabbage and carrots)
    1/3 cup cilantro
    1/4 cup rice vinegar
    2 tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 tblsp. sweetener of your choice (my addition, I think it tastes much better with a little sweetness, if you don’t add the sweetener my suggestion is to not eat it immediately after making, it takes an hour or two for the salt’s flavor to meld into the mix I think)

    1. Place cabbage and carrots in a colander; rinse thoroughly with cold water to crisp. Let drain 5 minutes. (I don’t do this, I open the bag and throw the cabbage/carrots into a bowl.)

    2. Meanwhile, whisk cilantro, vinegar, oil and salt (and sweetener) in a large bowl (I mix it in the glass measuring cup I measured the vinegar into, also I like to mix the cilantro directly into the slaw mix first and then make the dressing without it- I think it mixes in better, but it really doesn’t matter). Add cabbage and carrots; toss well to coat (I pour the dressing over the slaw/cilantro mix and toss).

    That’s it, it takes more time to type it than it does to make it!

    I had another Mexican cole slaw recipe that I used to make that had all kinds of things in it, diced green chiles, black olives, red pepper, onions, etc. but I like this simple one better.

  4. Michele said,

    Oops, I invented a new vegetable- “carrogs” :-))

  5. jonskifarms said,

    Thanks Michele, that sounds intriguing. I got a head of cabbage in my share today so I might just try this.

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