You know how the French are, they’re so intriguing, and with that romantic accent, sigh … oh yes they draw you in. Admittedly there has been a long-standing love affair with the dashing string bean known as Harry Corvair (haricot verts)! Your grandma was in love, your mom, too. Generations of cooks have fallen, maybe even you. Sure it’s easy to develop a fondness, because this tall, thin, snappy vegetable dressed in green is so delicious. This time of year beans of all kinds are beginning to spindle up their stalks, bear fruit and come on the market. The tender crisp bean is a welcome summer love. Ah but first you must learn how to pronounce his name!
Haricot verts are the thin French green beans par excellence but there are many other varieties of fabulous beans to explore, Roma, broad, green, purple, yellow. There are shorter bush beans that grow to 2 feet tall, and there are pole beans that can become 8 to 10 feet tall. So by all means don’t limit yourself, play the field!
Beyond being smooth and good looking on the outside, vibrant beans have talent on the inside. First of all, they are delicious and filling and fortunately low in calories, only 34 for a single cupful. The reason they are filling is because they contain lots of good fiber, 4 grams per serving. They also contain flavonoids like catechins just like in green tea, which have been found to reduce body fat. (No guarantees here, but if this is true, Harry, you are my new best friend.) Green beans have other great benefits for your wellbeing. They also contain “Epicatechins that improve heart health and help prevent cancer and diabetes, and the procyanidins in beans provide even more antioxidants. Green beans also are a great source of vitamin A and antioxidants, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and betacarotenes, which neutralize harmful free radicals. Vitamin C helps fight infection, such as in colds or flu, fiber helps keep your system flushed from toxins, and the carotene zeaxanthin protects eye health from UV rays by absorbing into the retina and helping to protect against macular degeneration.”*
All these attributes are great but the real romance must be found on the plate. At Salty’s this month our chefs are cooking up a beautiful Salade Niçoise that features fresh oil-poached Pacific halibut with haricot verts at their finest. I highly recommend that you make a date. And be sure to check out our inspired Chef Jeremy McLachlan’s blog whose delicious ideas will rouse your imagination: Mr. Bean Without the Humor.)