Italian beans are known by many names: Italian green beans, Italian flat beans, Italian string beans, Romano beans, runner beans and pole beans. Whatever you choose to call them, these green beans are delicious and easy to prepare. Italian beans are a type of "snap bean," meaning that you can eat them whole, pods and all. They can be substituted for green beans in almost any recipe, and vice versa. Blanching is a preferred method for cooking both green beans and Italian beans because it helps them keep their bright green color and fresh flavor.
Things You'll Need
1 pound Italian beans
5-quart or larger pot with tight-fitting lid
Tongs or slotted spoon
Preparing the Beans
Select your Italian beans. When buying Italian beans, choose the freshest that you can find. Indicators of freshness include crispness and color; if the beans are limp or yellowing, then they are not fresh.
Rinse the beans thoroughly in the colander, removing any stray leaves. Allow beans to drip-dry in the colander.
While the beans are drying, fill your pot two-thirds full with water. Cover and place over high heat.
When beans are dry, trim them by removing the stems. Cut or snap them in half or leave them whole, depending upon your preference.
Blanching the Beans
When the water is rapidly boiling, add the trimmed, cut beans to the pot. Cover with lid and set your timer for three minutes.
Meanwhile, fill the large bowl with ice water. Set aside.
After three minutes, uncover the beans and use your tongs or slotted spoon to plunge them into the ice water. Let them sit in the ice water for at least five minutes.
Remove the cooled beans from the ice bath and let drain in the colander until dry.
Once you have blanched your Italian beans, you can use them in several ways. If you would like to save them for a later date, you can freeze them. Just pack them into an airtight container, such as a zip-closure plastic bag or lidded plastic receptacle. Pack the beans tightly, so that there is as little air as possible in the bag or container. This will help them keep fresh for longer. Blanched Italian beans may also be canned. Blanched Italian beans are a delicious addition to any salad, or may be tossed with a simple vinaigrette and enjoyed on their own. If you like your Italian beans a little more cooked, simply extend their blanching time by an additional minute, or steam them to taste. Blanching is also one of the healthiest ways of preparing Italian or green beans, because it allows the beans to retain most of their nutrients, such as vitamins A and C.
Never blanch more than 1 pound of Italian beans at a time.