Published November 1, 2005.
Is it possible to breathe new life into over-the-hill supermarket green beans?
Mature supermarket green beans are often tough and dull, needing special treatment to become tender and flavorful.
We wanted out-of-season green beans that would not only taste great on their own but that could also accommodate some interesting flavor variations.
An embarrassingly simple test produced outstanding results: Beans roasted in a 450-degree oven with only oil, salt, and pepper transformed aged specimens into deeply caramelized, full-flavored beans. Just 20 minutes of roasting reversed the aging process (converting starch back to sugar) and encouraged the Maillard reaction (which creates flavor through browning). Creating recipe variations for our beans was a little more challenging, but adding aromatics halfway through cooking kept them from scorching and a spoonful of sticky sweetener kept the liquid seasonings from sliding off the beans. Adding a smattering of raw ingredients (toasted nuts, herbs, crumbled cheese) after cooking contributed complexity and textural interest.list of recipes