A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Spicy Summer Green Beans

After posting this recipe, I've received a couple requests for more veggie recipes. I hear that. I love my ice cream maker a little too much, perhaps. And cookies. Definitely love the cookies. A lot. But I go to a couple different farmers' markets each week and could definitely be sharing more of the summer's market-recipe bounty.

This Spicy Green Bean recipe is a big go-to dish in our house. We make it a couple times a week and eat it with just about everything. You may be a bit more choosy in your flavor-partnering, but we mix up all sorts of flavors, from all parts of the world. The spices used here are Indian-inspired. If you don't have these spices on hand, they stock them at Indian grocers, as well as at well-stocked grocery stores (or try this place online -- a great herb and spice shop). Feel free to eliminate the fenugreek if you don't have it (but I do recommend giving it a try -- it has a distinctive fragrance and flavor). You can change up the flavor a bit and add other things, like curry powder or chopped fresh basil at the end, or make it more or less spicy.

I've found that the nicest green bean to use is a thin, small French style, sometimes referred to as Haricots verts (which just means 'green bean' in French). These cook quickly and are very tender. However, the photo above is actually from a non-haricots verts night. When I use haricots verts, I don't cut up the beans at all. I remove their tops and that's it. For larger varieties of green beans, I cut off the tops and bottoms and then cut them into (round-about) 2-inch pieces. And when I say green bean, I really mean any summer bean -- yellow and purple and Asian long beans all work.

Spicy Summer Green Beans
(serves 4 people)
1 pound fresh green beans, washed, trimmed, cut if large
1 Tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon cumin, ground 
a couple big pinches red pepper flakes
2 -3 Tablespoons ghee (= clarified butter), butter or olive oil 
2 cloves garlic (or more if you are a big garlic fan)
1/2 cup raw cashew pieces or sliced/chopped almonds 
salt to taste

1. Heat the ghee (or butter or olive oil -- whatever you choose to use) over medium heat in a large skillet or wok. 
2. When hot, add the mustard seeds, fenugreek,  hot pepper flakes and cashews (or almonds). Seeds will sputter and some may leap from the pan (it's good to wear an apron) -- this is fine. Turn the heat down slightly and cook for a minute or two.
3. Add the green beans, garlic and cumin. Stir to coat all the beans with the spices and garlic. Add a few large pinches of salt and stir to distribute. 
4. Cover the beans and let them cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep in mind that thinner, smaller beans will need less time.
5. Remove the lid and cook for another 3- 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Taste for salt, add more if needed. 
7. When serving, I use tongs and leave a lot of the spices in the pan -- you can eat them all, but I find the flavors have already infused the beans and sometimes add too much crunch and texture while eating.



  1. Yay veggies!!! I don't care what anyone says - veggies are by far, my favorite thing on the plate.

    I wonder how these would be with a curry leaf tomato sauce on top?? Lots of deliciousness, I think!

  2. Realy nice idea for green beans, loks yummy :) I just posted a bean salad recipe too - 'tis the season of green beans lol! gemma :)