What's in season: Ranging in color from green to yellow and vibrant shades of purple and red, summer beans can be found by the mound at markets and should be available through the end of the hot summer months. Beans can generally be divided into two groups: round beans are more delicate and cook up quickly; flat beans are known for their tough texture, with thick hulls that take well to longer cooking times. Varieties include slender haricots verts, Blue Lake and pale yellow wax beans, with meaty, flat Romano beans also starting to show up.
What to cook: Round beans take almost no time to prepare. Blanche the beans quickly, and toss in a salad for extra crunch. Sauté beans in olive oil with a touch of garlic, or throw them on the grill for a simple side dish. Larger flat beans benefit from cooking over a longer period to coax out their tenderness. Braise flat Romano beans with pancetta and cherry tomatoes, or simmer with soups or stews. If you’re looking for something a little more unusual, get creative and bake green beans in a tortino — an egg tart similar to a frittata but cooked in a springform pan — flavored with Parmigiano-Reggiano and garlic.