A two-step cooking method is key to tender, crunchy, vibrant and flavorful green beans. You first blanch the beans, and then sauté them with butter and shallots to add wonderful flavors. It's an extra step that won't really seem extra because of the amazing results.
There are a lot of different ways to cook green beans. You can sauté them in olive oil, steam, broil, air fry and even grill them. I've tried them all and the problem with most cooking methods is the beans either come out overcooked and an ugly dark green color, or unevenly cooked where some parts are chewy and other parts too soft.
Blanching and sautéing is a restaurant technique that chefs use to make perfectly cooked and beautiful veggies ready in just minutes. Since they are par-cooked, they are able to "finish" the green beans without having to cook them all the way through again. This really is superior when it comes to making the most consistently tender, vibrantly green and flavorful green beans every time.
What You Need
- Fresh green beans
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Water for blanching
- Ice for an ice bath
- Cutting board and knife
- Large 3 qt saucepot for blanching
- Bowl with ice water
- 10" skillet
Buying the Beans
It all starts with buying the best green beans you can find. French green beans (haricots verts) are superior in many ways and definitely my personal favorite. They are slimmer, more tender and have a great flavor. While they aren't as common in all supermarkets, they are gaining popularity and are available at many stores including Trader Joe's, Costco and Specialty Produce if you are here in San Diego.
You want to buy super-fresh green beans that have an even green color with no brown discolorations. They should easily snap to show their vibrant freshness, and the leaves attached to the stems (if any) should not be wilted or brown.
If the green beans don't look so hot at the store, then they aren't going to get any better when you bring them home and you will probably be disappointed.
Fresh green beans will last about 5 days stored open in the refrigerator.
What Is Blanching?
You have probably heard the term, but what is blanching? It's a cooking technique where you first cook the ingredient in boiling water, then once it reaches the desired doneness, you quickly transfer it to ice water to "shock" and immediately stop the cooking, preserving that exact doneness and vibrant color.
Much of the time blanched foods will be reheated before serving, so you will just slightly undercook the ingredient since it will be cooked again.
Benefits of Blanching Green Beans First
- Prep can be done ahead of time.
- They'll be perfectly cooked through, tender and still crisp.
- The blanched beans are ready to enjoy as is (great in salads) or can be warmed to perfection in just minutes.
- They retain their beautiful vibrant green color.
- You get to season the inside of the green beans with the salt in the boiling water, so they are more flavorful.
How to Blanch Green Beans
First, cook them in boiling water until they are perfectly tender. Transfer to ice water to stop them from cooking and preserve that vibrant green color. Finish by sautéing in a little butter with shallot, salt and pepper. Here's the step by step:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt.
- Place the green beans in the boiling water and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until evenly bright green and tender yet still crisp.
- Transfer the green beans to a bowl of ice water until completely cooled to stop the cooking and preserve the color.
- To finish cooking the green beans, sauté in a skillet with butter, chopped shallot, a splash of water and season with kosher salt and pepper.
How Long Do You Blanch (Boil) Green Beans?
Cook the green beans in salted boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes (depending on the size), until bright green, tender yet still crisp. Don't overcrowd the pot of water or it will drop the temperature and cause them not to cook evenly. Blanch in batches if necessary.
- Trimming the beans: Trim only the string (stem) end of the green beans and leave the tail end on. Pick up a handful of beans, line up the stem ends, and carefully use a sharp knife to cut off all the stems at once.
- Make ahead: Blanch the fresh green beans up to 5 days in advance.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days uncovered in the crisper. Avoid keeping in a sealed plastic bag where there is moisture.
- Rejuvenate wilted beans by cutting off the stem end and soaking in ice water for 30 minutes to crisp them up.
Serve 'Em Up With
How to Cook Green Beans
- 1 pound fresh green beans (haricots verts/French green beans preferred)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- 2 tablespoon water or stock
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- Prep the beans: Rinse the green beans and trim off the stem end.
- Blanch the beans: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add plenty of salt (1 tablespoon per quart of Diamond kosher salt). Also prepare a large bowl of ice water.Cook the beans in the boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the color turns bright green and they are tender but still crisp. Quickly transfer the cooked beans to the ice water with tongs to stop the cooking and preserve the color. Drain once cooled completely.
- Sauté to finish and serve: Place the blanched green beans in a skillet over medium heat with the butter, chopped shallot and the water (or stock). Sauté for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently until warmed through and the shallots are translucent. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Serve and enjoy!
- If using a small pot of water, blanch the beans in batches so they cook evenly.
- After blanching, the beans are ready to enjoy as is and are great in salads, or you can sauté to warm through and add flavor.
- Adding a little water or stock to the sauté step will make steam to finish cooking the beans.