Did you know that green beans, or string beans, most likely originated in Peru and were introduced to Europe by the Spaniards? I didn’t know that but I learned this and a lot of other good information from TheWorld’sHealthiestFoods.org. It’s my favorite site to get information about foods, and vegetables in particular. At this site you’ll learn some the history of a food, the nutritional profile and health benefits, how to select and store, prepare and cook, individual concerns if there are any, and references are also listed.
What I also learned about string beans is that the amount of carotenoids in them is comparable to carrots and tomatoes…,who would have thought! Generally when we think of foods high in carotenoids what comes to mind are foods with bright orange colors like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe and apricots. Because the green beans are so chlorophyll rich we don’t realize that they are also packed with these necessary nutrients. Getting carotenoids is important for reducing the risk of cancer and eye disease.
Green beans are also important for their anti-inflammatory properties, bone health benefits, cardiovascular benefits and anti-oxidant support. But let’s talk taste. Do you like green beans? I find that the taste of this food, like many foods, will depend on how it’s prepared, and if it’s overcooked or undercooked. The best way to cook them is to lightly salt them and steam them. When they are at the perfect point, cooked but still hold a slightly crispy bite, they should be plunged into ice water—this is if you are planning on eating them cold. If you are serving them hot they should be cooked just before sitting at the table. The herb I use in the recipe is dill. The spiciness from the dill is a nice contrast to the sweetness from the tangerine, but you could also use thyme or basil with nice results.
- 1 pound green beans, washed and tips sliced off
- 3 tablespoons tangerine juice
- 2-1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced onion
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
- 1/3 cup red bell pepper, ¼–inch dice
- 1/3 cup yellow bell pepper, ¼–inch dice
- 1/3 cup orange bell pepper, ¼–inch dice
- 5 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/3 teaspoon sea salt
- A pinch of black pepper
- Garnish: a couple sprigs of fresh dill, and a couple of wedges of tangerine
- Place the green beans in a pan with a steaming basket. Add 1-inch water to the pan and steam until the beans.
- While the beans are cooking are cooking prepare another pan with a mixture of half water and half ice.
- Steam the beans until cooked but still hold a slightly crispy bite. At this point you will plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking. As the ice melts drain off the water and add more ice so they start to chill. You may serve them after they have been in the ice water for 6 to 7 minutes, or you can place them in the fridge to chill them longer.
- To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the tangerine juice, the vinegar, oil, garlic, onion salt and pepper and then add the bell peppers and the dill.
- To serve: arrange the green beans on a plate and top with the vinaigrette and the crumbled feta cheese.