NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

November 20, 2013

Elevate basic green beans with bacon or coconut

By Alison Ladman
Associated Press

---- — Can we all just agree that by 2013 we should be able to do better by green beans than dumping canned soup and fried onions all over them? Surely, there is a better way.

Actually, there are lots of better ways. Even if all you do is crisp some chopped bacon in a skillet, then pop fresh green beans in for a few minutes of stir-frying, the end result will still be better (and probably more welcome at the table). But that’s just the start.

To help you get your green bean creativity flowing, we’ve given you a basic recipe for cooking them, plus two ways of finishing them — one with bacon and blue cheese, the other with honey-sweetened spicy coconut. But if neither of those do it for you, use our base, then take those beans in any direction you like.

GREEN BEANS TWO WAYS

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 8

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

Salt and ground black pepper

Bacon and blue cheese topping:

1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/4 cup chopped scallions

Sweet-and-spicy coconut topping:

1/4 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes

In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes, or until softened. Add the green beans and saute until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Choose one of the two variations, and gently toss all ingredients for either one together with the green beans in the skillet.

Per serving of the bacon and blue cheese variation: 110 calories; 60 calories from fat (55 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 4 g protein; 190 mg sodium.

Per serving of the sweet-and-spicy coconut topping: 120 calories; 50 calories from fat (42 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (0 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 2 g protein; 60 mg sodium.