Steaming is a simple way of cooking vegetables without adding butter or oil. Although you can buy special steamers, you can do it with nothing more than a pot, a lid and a rack.
Place the rack in a pan and add at least 1 inch of water. Cover the pan and heat the water until you see the steam begin to rise.
Cook the green beans just until they are tender yet crisp. Depending on the age of the beans and their size, this will take from 6 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully; overcooking by even a few minutes can cause them to lose their bright color and become a dull green.
As soon as they are done cooking, “shock” them in a bowl of ice water to completely stop the cooking and preserve the color and crispness. Be sure to pat them dry afterward so the dressing will adhere.
Deane’s book “Low Fat Kitchen” includes more than 100 recipes created for this column.