Getting the most out of fresh green beans

Green beans are the king dinner vegetable at our house. So, every year at this time I get a little apprehensive when my home-canned supplies are running low.

Right now, I have about a dozen jars of them in my pantry — and far fewer jars of peaches, pears and tomatoes. So, I was happy to see that Hendricks Farm’s bean crop is now ready for orders.

I was probably in my 30s when my neighbor, Sally Tillman, introduced me to canning fresh fruit and vegetables. Every summer Chuck had a tiny little garden in our backyard that produced dozens of tomatoes. We couldn’t eat or give away all of them.

What to do?

Sally, who was a product of the Great Depression said, “Let me show you how to ‘put them up.’” That was the beginning of a beautiful canning relationship.

Shortly after I began canning Chuck’s garden offerings, I discovered the bounty from neighboring orchards and have been canning ever since.

Some 40-plus years later, it’s still one of my winter joys to open a can of summer sunshine. Now, canning and making jam are somewhat of an addiction for me.

It’s not so much that I like the process but that I like the products.

Right now, I’m also looking for ways to eat them fresh. A dinner menu at our house usually includes a lean protein (chicken, fish, or pork) and two to three small sides: a starch, a simple vegetable and a salad.

Summers we eat a lot of beans, tomatoes and zucchini, so I look forward to new recipes.

Here’s how I prepare fresh green beans: Al dente is good but the Southern girl in me still likes them cooked-to-death with onion and salt pork. I also know that’s way too much fat. So, today’s first recipe is a substitute.

Fresh green beans with bacon is almost as tasty as the old-fashioned way.

Most of us agree that bacon makes vegetables taste way better. In this recipe, you sauté the bacon and then use a little bit of bacon grease left in the pan as a substitute for butter or oil. It’s so good it may even entice finicky appetites to eat their veggies.

If you like, add a little garlic at the last minute.

The second recipe for Roasted Green Beans is for those who like their veggies al dente. Again, it doesn’t call for a lot of ingredients and can be put in the oven the last 25 minutes or so with whatever else you’re cooking that night.

It’s quick, healthy and tasty.

And finally, for those of you who are craving something different — check out the Philadelphia Cheese casserole below. It’s creamy! It’s also quick to put together. It makes a great potluck dish, or you can cut the recipe in half for a small family. Enjoy!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have canning to do...

Fresh green beans

with bacon

• 1 1/2 to 2 Pounds Green Beans washed, ends trimmed

• 6 slices of raw bacon chopped

• bacon drippings

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• salt and black pepper to taste

• lemon wedge

Place chopped bacon into a frying pan and cook until crispy. Remove bacon and set aside on a paper towel lined plate. Remove excess bacon drippings leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pan.

Turn heat to medium.

Add Green Beans to pan and cook until they are lightly browned, stirring occasionally (about 8 minutes). Add salt and pepper, garlic and bacon. Squeeze the lemon wedge over the beans.

Toss and cook for 1 minute more. Serves about 6.

Oven roasted green beans

• 1 lb. green beans, washed and trimmed

• 1 tablespoon olive oil (you’ll need more!)

• 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

• black pepper to taste

• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place beans in a bowl.

Drizzle with olive oil and add seasonings. Toss well. Spread into a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Roast beans 18-22 minutes or until tender-crisp. Add more olive oil if needed. Broil 1 minute if desired. Serves 4.

Green bean casserole

(Philadelphia Cream Cheese)

• 2 lbs. fresh green beans; trimmed, cut crosswise in half

• 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

• 1/2 cup milk

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced, divided

• 1/2 cup sliced almonds

• 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

• 2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Spray 2-quart casserole dish.

Cook beans in boiling water 3 min. Meanwhile, whisk cream cheese, milk, pepper and half the garlic in large bowl until blended. Drain beans. Add to cream cheese mixture; mix lightly. Spoon into prepared casserole.

Combine remaining garlic with almonds, bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over bean mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until beans are tender and crumb topping is golden brown.

Note: Serves a crowd— 16!

Contact Betty Kaiser’s Coo’k’s Corner at 942-1317 or email her at [email protected]