Green beans: How to choose, store and prepare

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The world of green beans is split pretty neatly in two: the round and the flat. The round beans, like Blue Lakes and the even thinner haricots verts, need to be cooked quickly in order to preserve their delicate crispness. Not so with flat beans such as Romano. They repay extensive cooking as their thick hulls take a while to tenderize. And when they do, they become meaty rather than soggy. Try stewing them in a tomato sauce for 30 minutes or more--you can even serve them cold, as an antipasto.

How to choose: Green beans should be crisp and firm. There should be no soft spots or signs of discoloring. It makes easier cooking and much nicer presentation if you’ll sort while you’re shopping and make sure you’re only keeping the straightest beans (they can be extremely kinky).

How to store: Keep beans refrigerated in a plastic bag. If you’re going to store them for very long, slip in a piece of paper towel to absorb any extra moisture.

How to prepare: With round green beans, blanch them quickly in plenty of rapidly boiling, heavily salted water. Transfer them to an ice bath after they’ve turned bright green (about 5-6 minutes), pat them dry and dress them with olive oil, garlic and lemon. People will think you’re a genius.