When you think of Appalachia in the late summer, visions of grandmothers and children sitting on porches stringing beans may come to mind. Green beans, also known as string beans or snap beans, have been enjoyed for centuries. However, this legume has evolved over the generations through plant breeding techniques.

While their name indicates that they are beans, green beans are actually the young, unripe protective pods of the common bean. Green beans are harvested before the bean seeds inside the pod mature. Similar edible pods include sugar snap peas or snow peas.

Originating in Peru, green beans were introduced globally through trade in the 16th century. Native Americans were known to plant pole (climbing) beans with corn so that the corn stalks could support the beans. Varieties used to contain a string running along the side of the bean pod. However, most modern commercial varieties are stringless. Some heirloom varieties may still contain strings, which are removed before cooking.

Nutritionally, green beans are high in folate and a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A. Like many fruits and vegetables, green beans have the highest nutritional content when fresh. When buying fresh green beans, select plump bright green pods without black spots and blemishes. Fresh green beans can be kept in a bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. Green beans can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, stir-fried or baked.

Garlic Parmesan green beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh green beans, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the green beans, sea salt, and black pepper, and toss to coat green beans evenly. Continue to saute for approx. 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle grated Parmesan. Toss once again until Parmesan is melted.

The Athens Farmers Market Café is a collaboration between the Athens Farmers Market, OU COMCorps (a local Americorps program), and Athens County Children Services. Athens Farmers Market hours are Wednesdays (April-December) and Saturdays (year-round) from 9 a.m. to noon at The Market on State parking lot, 1000 E. State St., Athens. To help increase fresh food consumption, the Athens Farmers Market vendors proudly participate in the following social service programs: the USDA Food Assistance Program, SNAP/EBT (food stamps), WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Participants can stop by the table at the southeast corner of the market to get SNAP tokens to spend at the market.

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