Haricots verts means "green beans," which is exactly what they are, albeit a longer, more slender variety than regular green beans. Some also find haricots verts to have a superior texture, which combined with their elegant appearance and French name make these vegetables seem a little special. Cooking haricots verts using your choice from several methods is both quick and tres facile.
Rinse whole haricots verts under cold running water. If you're preparing a lot of the beans, it's easiest to do this using a colander. Discard any limp or discolored beans. Now slice off the two ends of each bean using a sharp knife. You just need to cut off the very tips where the beans taper into woody stalks. Leave the haricots verts whole for the most pleasing appearance, or cut them into smaller pieces if you wish.
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Steaming haricots verts preserves their bright green color and crisp texture. Here's how:
Set a steamer basket inside a saucepan with a lid.
Pour enough cold water into the pan to reach just underneath the bottom of the steamer.
Put the lid on the pan, set it on the stove and heat the water until it is just simmering.
Set the haricots verts inside the steamer, spreading them out evenly.
Place the lid on the pan and let the beans steam for approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
Taste one of the beans to see if they are done to your liking. If necessary, continue to steam them for a few more minutes.
Blanching or Boiling
Blanching haricots verts -- briefly boiling, and then immediately cooling them using cold water -- is the best way to cook them for a salad. The beans cook just enough to take away the raw taste, and then the cold water halts the cooking before they become soft. The resulting crisp, tender texture and mild flavor is ideal for salads, such as a classic Nicoise or a three-bean salad. Blanch haricots verts as follows:
Bring a pan of salted water to a rolling boil.
Put the haricots verts into the boiling water and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the haricots verts from the pan with a slotted spoon or tongs and transfer them to a bowl of ice water.
Remove the beans from the ice water after a few minutes and pat them dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
For fully cooked haricots verts to serve hot, boil them instead for 5 to 8 minutes. Tasting a bean is the best way to determine the perfect cooking time. Drain the beans and serve them immediately with your choice of seasonings.
Stir-frying haricots verts in a little oil over a high heat causes them to darken and blister in spots, which creates a more intense flavor while keeping them tender. The method is sometime referred to as "dry frying." Slice the beans or keep them whole, and use just a drizzle of a cooking oil with a high smoke point, such as canola, vegetable or peanut oil. Keep the beans moving as they cook to prevent them from burning and to make sure they cook evenly. If you are adding aromatics or a sauce to your stir fry, cook the haricots verts first, remove them from the wok or pan, heat the other ingredients, and then return the beans to the pan just before serving.
- Haricots verts are in season and at their best from summer to early fall.
- If possible, buy haricots verts loose so you can sort through them and pick the freshest beans. Look for beans that are firm, bright green and free of blemishes.