I love string beans and so did my mom. She particularly liked to serve dishes that feature them in the summer when they are abundant, fresh, and sweet. They’re great when the weather is too hot for a heavy meal.
I remember Mom pinching off the ends of the beans, pulling off the string, snapping them in half, and rinsing them before she put them in the pot to cook. Some of the beans never made it that far because I loved to snack on the cool, crunchy raw beans even before they made it to the sink!
I’d like to share three of the string bean dishes that Mom made. They all make great light summertime meals.
String Beans and Potato
For this dish, Mom boiled chunks of potato and string beans until they were barely tender. Then she strained off the liquid and simmered the veggies in tomato sauce. Add a little salt and pepper and maybe some garlic powder and you have a wonderful summertime lunch. Serve it warm but not hot, with some Italian bread to dunk in the sauce.
String Bean Salad with Hard-Cooked Eggs
For this second dish, Mom also boiled the beans, but left them a little crunchier. After straining them, she topped them with slices of hard-cooked egg and very thin slivers of garlic. To this mix, she added salt, pepper, and a little oregano (I use an Italian medley spice blend) and tossed it with a generous shot of red wine vinegar and some good olive oil. Mom also served this dish with Italian bread.
This was a dish that Mom began to make later in her life. She tossed cooked string beans, red kidney beans, and chickpeas with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic — either slivers or garlic powder. You could also add some thinly sliced red onion. Served with a nice, warm soft taco, this is easily a substantial enough dinner for those hot summer nights.
I love to make recipes like these that use seasonal ingredients. They take me back to my childhood summers and they’re frugal, meat-free, and really easy to prepare. And chilled, both of the bean salads are great to bring to work for lunch.