Summer is the perfect time to dash out for delicious fresh produce.
August is a great month to explore different fruits and vegetables, to find new favorites and enjoy cherished flavors.
What is the DASH Diet? DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Eating this way relies on generous servings of vegetables and fruits.
The DASH diet has decades of solid science to show it lowers blood pressure and more! Its related to a bushel basket of health benefits, from reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancers to brain health.
Farmers’ markets, roadside stands, even the produce sections of grocery stores abound with seasonal, local choices.
For me, it’s my garden that is bursting with vegetables. I like to grow an “experimental” choice each year, something I have never tried to see what happens. Four years ago, it was Royal Burgundy bush garden beans. These beans are purple – and magically they turn green when cooked! Kids definitely find these beans intriguing – and are eager to try a bite that leads to a serving.
Here are three of my variety ways to prepare fresh beans – of any color!
[Prep Step: For any recipe below, Wash and trim ends of beans. Keep full length or cut beans into 1-inch pieces, if desired.]
1. Easy garlic beans. In a sauté pan, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat and sauté green beans, stirring frequently, until small spots of brown appear and beans are tender crisp. Add fresh minced garlic to taste (¼ to ½ teaspoon per serving) and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes until garlic is toasted light tan. See PRO COOKING TIP #1 below.
2. Ginger beans. Substitute 1/4 teaspoon of finely chopped crystallized ginger or fresh minced ginger – whatever you have on hand or prefer – per serving instead of garlic. Delish!
3. Green Beans Peppery Pecan-dine. Instead of garlic, add ½ teaspoon of toasted chopped pecans per serving for a twist on Green Beans Almondine. For a little kick, a dash or two of hot pepper sauce to taste. For a traditional taste, add toasted almond slices instead of pecans. See PRO COOKING TIP #2 below.
PRO COOKING TIP #1: Add the minced garlic at the end of cooking, it will toast light and avoid becoming bitter.
PRO COOKING TIP #2: To use toasted nuts, heat pieces in a single layer in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Stir frequently and do not look away. Nuts will go from toasty brown to black very quickly! Remove from heat and transfer the nuts to a heat safe plate when pieces are desired color to stop the toasting process. Store cooled nuts in a sealed airtight container.
Summer is the perfect time to explore and enjoy new varieties of vegetables. Check out the choices in your local markets and roadside stands in addition to your garden if you have one. If your garden produces in abundance, consider preserving your bounty for use in winter.
To preserve green beans:
1. Wash and trimmed beans and remove any strings.
2. Cut the beans into 1-inch pieces.
3. Blanche the beans in hot water for 2-3 minutes then transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
4. Drain the chilled pieces of bean and pat dry with paper towel.
5. Arrange on in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer.
6. When pieces are frozen solid, transfer to a zipper style freezer bag and seal, removing any air from the bag in the process.
7. Label and date the package and store in the freezer. The pieces will be individually frozen.
You can remove recipe amounts from the bag during the year. Return the tightly sealed bag to the freezer for future use. Storage time is 4-6 months – if they last that long!
Food Safety Tip: Green beans are a low acid vegetable and require pressure canning process, not a water bath process. Check your local County Extension office – do an online search for Extension Service near me – for classes on how to safely home can foods.
[In case you did not know…Extension offices are part of the US Department of Agriculture and offer a wealth of information and classes on food and nutrition, food preservation, budgeting and more! Funded by American taxpayers – recoup your investment with these great services.]