My family loves fresh green beans, so we grow a lot of them in our vegetable garden each year. The harvest is often quite bountiful, so I started to look for new ways to use green beans in meals, besides the few basic ways my mother served them when I was a veggie-hating kid.
What Mom Did With Green Beans
Mom always cut horizontally across the beans to make the usual chunks or segments you find in the frozen or canned versions, then boiled them into submission. Tasty enough, but not too exciting.
Every so often, she’d get wild and put green beans into one of those church-supper casseroles made with noodles and cream-of-mushroom soup.
Oh, and occasionally they were served raw on a raw veg crudites tray with a cream-cheese-based onion dip. But that was about the limit of it.
What I Do With Green Beans
I figured there had to be more to do with the tasty and healthful fresh green bean, so when I set up housekeeping for myself I not only continued to grow the legumes we love but started to seek out new ways to serve them.
French-slicing opened a whole new world of texture and presentation – as well as a quicker cooking time that lends itself well to healthy cooking methods like stir-frying and steaming.
The kitchen gadget that makes it easy for me is the Chef’n Bean Slice a foodie pal picked up on Amazon, for about the cost of a fancy latte.
Now we use green beans in stir-fry dishes, or steam them gently to al dente perfection to serve with pasta, or create an endless variety of creative dishes from fresh vegetables and whatever else happens to be in the fridge or pantry:
- Green beans en croute;
- Green beans en papillote;
- Green beans au gratin;
- Green beans almandine, finished under the broiler;
- Green beans sprinkled in a crisp chef salad;
- Green beans in a hearty vegetable-chicken soup…
The options are endless.
How to French-Cut Green Beans
Frenching the beans – slicing them lengthwise, also known as a julienne cut – is key to the variety. This is because sliced beans cook much more quickly than whole or cut beans, and have a completely different texture. That simple change of format turned out to be a great way to add variety into our meals.
Slicing along the length of those slightly-over-the-hill beans (as long as they’re not too far gone) means they don’t have to be boiled up into mush or relegated to the compost bin. Instead, they’re a delicious part of a healthy meal, worthy of being called haricot verts with a gourmet flourish.
Yes, slicing loads of veggies into those lengthwise slivers can be a time suck and a hassle, but remember – I’ve got my cute little special-purpose kitchen gadget to make light work of the prep.
Sure, it doesn’t look like much – so simple! So incredibly cheap… But the Chef’n BeanSlice green bean slicer turns out to be great for cutting up my garden-fresh green beans in julienne style – especially handy for french-slicing those larger pods that went just a day or two past the peak harvest time.
See the Bean Slicer in Action
Here’s a quick video look at how it works – “quick” indeed, because this is a very simple gadget.
Nip off the ends with the nipper end. Slide your nice fresh green bean into the blade end, then pull it the rest of the way through. Repeat with the rest of your beans and – voila! French-sliced haricots verts for your dining pleasure.
This photograph shows my Chef’n BeanSlice making short work of cutting a harvest of green beans french style.
As you can see, I’m dealing here with some of those end-of-season green beans that got a bit away from me by a few extra days between harvest. At this size and maturity, the beans are just a little bit too big to be tender unless they’re julienned in french style.
Tip: If any of the actual beans inside the pods have developed more than it’s possible to ignore in a straight-up veggie side dish, I just set them aside to toss into a homemade soup or grind them up to stir into hummus or dip.
Who Shouldn’t Use this Slicer?
If you buy your green beans at a grocery store, instead of growing them in your own garden, I have to tell you that you may be disappointed in the performance of this slicer.
That is because even “fresh” produce at a grocery store is at least a day or two out of the field, if not longer when you add in the time spent in transport from the farm to good wholesalers warehouse to the local store.
Store-bought beans are kept slightly chilled and often misted with cool water once they get on display in the store, but that doesn’t give them the same crisp testure as the green beans you pick straight off the vine in your own home garden or pick up at a local farmer’s market or farm gate stall.
For those of us who grow our own veggies, however, the Chef’n Bean Slicer works a treat.
French-slicing the beans is very zen and soothing activity, too, in an old-fashioned kind of way. Nothing beats sitting in a lawnchair, a bowl of fresh-picked beans on my lap and the bean slicer in hand, watching the birds as I prep our vegetables for supper.
That’s kind of the way my grandmother rolled, as I recall, so it brings back a fond childhood memory as well as french-slicing my beans!
How Do You French Your Green Beans?
The Chef’n Bean Slice is (as you may have gathered) my favorite way to julienne in french style, but there are a surprising number of clever tools made for just the same purpose. Just have a peek at the wide variety of bean slicers you can find at Amazon, for example.
Tip: If you’re dealing with store-bought beans instead of home-garden-grown variety, you might want to take a close look at some of the rotary hand-crank models. I’ve tried the popular Norco hand-crank slicer at a friend’s house and was quite impressed with how it sliced right through even a fairly limp bean. If I wasn’t devoted to my own little low-tech slicer, I might be tempted!
Do you ever take a chance on a new kitchen gadget, just to see if it will work for you?
I’d bet anything that you’ve got at least one food-prep tool that your friends and family just don’t “get,” but you love for how it makes a certain cooking chore go faster and easier! C’mon, share – what kitchen gadget do you swear by?