It took me longer than I’d care to admit to get myself out of bed and up to the Neenah Farmer’s market this year. I could make excuses for myself, or just own up to my college kid sleeping habits of staying up too late and sleeping in
But I made it! A bit bleary eyed, but ready to find some interesting local produce to cook with. I circled Shattuck Park, appraising each booth and its offerings, admiring everything from sugar snap peas so large they practically burst out of their shells to diminutive, jewel-like raspberries. Buried in the back of a booth, I spotted a bag of deep purple legumes labeled “Amethyst Beans” and snatched them up instantly.
“They’re beautiful,” I murmured to the vendor.
“Aren’t they?” she said with a smile, before apologetically adding, “unfortunately they don’t stay purple after you cook them.” I didn’t mind. I could imagine parents preparing these amethyst beans for their children as a way to wow them into eating vegetables. Purple beans are just green beans wearing a disguise, magically transforming when exposed to heat.
I have mixed feelings about green beans. I can almost smell the memories of terrible, elementary school lunch green beans that came in industrial sized cans. My mother would wrinkle her nose in disgust as I arrived home with that awful scent sticking to my clothes and hair. On the other hand, I have memories of verdant beans cooked simply in butter and salt, yielding ever so slightly to my teeth before bursting into a bright, fresh flavor. I never had daydreams about green beans until I tried those.
I suppose I could have prepared a green bean casserole with my farmer’s market find, but I’ve always felt somewhat suspicious of the potluck staple (for no discernible reason really, I’m just strange). Besides, I didn’t want to drown the beans in canned mushroom soup, completely masking their flavor. So I chose a recipe that would feature the green beans more prominently. They turned out wonderfully, tender but still slightly crisp. Just a note, this recipe does include both chicken broth and bacon grease (yes, you heard me right), so if you are a vegetarian or just opposed to the idea, you can sub in vegetable broth and butter or olive oil.
Fresh Green Beans
recipe from The Pioneer Woman
1 lb green beans
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons bacon grease (can substitute 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt (can substitute regular table salt; use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon)
Ground black pepper
Snap the stem ends of green beans, or cut them off in a big bunch with a knife if you’d like. Melt bacon grease in a skillet over medium low heat. Add garlic and onions and cook for a minute. Then add green beans and cook for a minute until beans turn bright green. Add the chicken broth, chopped red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Turn heat to low and cover with a lid, leaving lid cracked to allow steam to escape. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until liquid evaporates and beans are fairly soft, yet still a bit crisp. You can add more chicken broth during the cooking process, but don’t be afraid to let it all cook away so the onions and peppers can caramelize.