When my friend, Gary, asked me to bring a green bean side dish for a potluck dinner, I had no idea how much everyone would LOVE this simple recipe. After one bite, I heard, “Oh-Ma-Gawd! Lisa!” and “What did you put in these beans?” Really? I mean, this hardly qualifies as a recipe… but if you love green beans, here’s two sure-fire ways to make fresh beans that everyone loves. The first method is for prepping your beans in advance I’ll show you how to blanch green beans so they’re tender and crisp and keep their bright green color for days. The second method is ready from start to finish in under 15 minutes, so it’s great for busy weeknights.These easy lemon garlic green beans are simple to make and deliver on flavor.
The best beans for lemon garlic green beans
Before we get into cooking the lemon garlic green beans, I want to illustrate the difference between canned green beans and fresh beans and why the clear winner is fresh beans all the way. The beans on the left (above) are canned Italian cut beans from my supermarket. The beans on the right are freshly cooked string beans. Any questions?
The difference between canned beans and fresh beans
- Aren’t green. They’re more “Army khaki“.
- Aren’t crisp-tender. They soft and mushy. (a.k.a. blech!)
- They don’t taste like a green bean, instead they have a muted bean-ish flavor with a hint of metallic.
- Canned beans lose a lot of their nutritional value in the cooking and canning process.
- No amount of seasoning will make these beans taste good. I only buy them for hurricane supplies — you know, in case of the apocalypse.
- Are bright green (if you know how to cook them).
- Have a firm, but snappy texture.
- Taste like fresh beans should.
- Are best when they’re simply seasoned.
- Fresh beans retain their vitamins and minerals.
- Are one of the easiest side dishes to make… and make WELL either at the last minute or by blanching beans for later.
When choosing your fresh beans look for ones that are sold in bulk so that you can choose your beans. Look for firm green stems, and sturdy green beans that snap with an audible crack when you split them. Try and find them without blemishes or spots, if possible.
Blanching green beans for make ahead side dish
Since green beans don’t take that long to cook, you might be wondering why you’d want to prep them ahead of time. Honestly, if I’m just making dinner for the family, the beans go in at the last minute and as long as everything is timed right, they’ll be ready when the rest of the meal is…
However, when we’ve got a larger crowd and there’s more than one or two other items being prepared, it just makes sense to do as much prep as possible ahead of time. Like when we’ve got 12 people for a sit down dinner, I don’t want to be just starting to trim my green beans 30 minutes before we eat… so usually I’ll blanch and shock the beans earlier in the day or even the day before.
How to blanch green beans
- Set a pot of water on the stove to a boil.
- Fill a large bowl with ice and add water to cover. Set aside.
- Rinse the beans in a colander to remove any dirt or debris
- Use a sharp paring knife to trim the tough stem from one end of the bean.
- If some of the beans are already halved, trim the oxidized end so that it’s at least a fresh cut.
- When the water boils add salt, then add the green beans.
- If the beans have just been removed from the refrigerator, adding them to the boiling water will reduce the temperature of the water and stop the boiling. When the boiling resumes, start your timer from that point.
- Cook the beans for 4-5 minutes until crisp tender. (Test for doneness by fishing out a green bean with a pair of tongs and biting into it. It should be al dente, without any squeaky sounds when you chew.)
- Transfer the cooked beans with the tongs immediately to the ice water bath and press the beans into the water so they immediately stop cooking. This is called “shocking” the green beans and it’s how you prevent them from over-cooking and turning gray.
- To store the beans, drain the water and place them on a stack of two or three paper towels to absorb any excess liquid.
- Wrap the blanched beans in fresh paper towels and store them in an airtight storage container or a zip top bag and refrigerate until ready to use.
How much should I buy for larger groups?
Note: when buying green beans for a larger group, figure that 1 pound of beans serves about 4 people. Therefore, if you’re having 12 for dinner, you’ll need 3 pounds of beans.
How long do blanched beans last?
They should last for 2-3 days, well sealed and refrigerated.
Making lemon garlic green beans is really simple and it’s a side dish that everyone goes for again and again because of the perfectly balanced flavors and of course, those perfectly cooked beans.
Making lemon garlic green beans
- Mince the garlic. You want it pretty finely minced because no one wants to bite into a big hunk of garlic, right?
- Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook until the garlic is softened and fragrant.
- Add the blanched beans and toss them in the garlic butter with a pair of tongs to coat.
- Place the lid on the pan and heat the beans just until they’re warmed through (2-3 minutes), tossing occasionally.
- Remove the lid and add the lemon juice salt and pepper and toss to coat.
What about quick green beans?
For the last minute green beans, you can skip the shocking step.
- Bring the water to a boil and add salt.
- Add the beans and cook to your desired doneness (make sure to do the taste and squeakiness test to be sure).
- Drain the beans well in a colander.
- Melt the butter in the same pan you cooked the beans and add the garlic, stirring until fragrant and softened.
- Add the beans back to the pot and toss to coat.
- Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
More green bean recipes:
- Spring Pesto Green Beans
- Speckbohnen (German Green Beans) via Caroline’s Cooking
- Tangy Green Bean Ciliegine Salad
- Orange Dijon Haricots Verts
- Holiday Green Beans
Quick and Easy Green Beans
- 1 pound green beans trimmed
- 1 large clove garlic minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- 2 teaspoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch black pepper
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
QUICK AND EASY GREEN BEANS
- Bring a medium pot filled 2/3 with water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Add the green beans to the water. Adding cold beans to the water will lower the temperature and stop the boiling process. Bring the beans up to a boil and once the water starts boiling again, cook the beans for 4-5 minutes or until crisp, tender. Taste a green bean to be sure it's cooked the way you like.
- Drain the beans well in a colander. Place the pot on the burner over medium heat. Add butter and garlic and heat until butter is melted and garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the beans to the pot and add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss the beans with the tongs to coat with seasonings. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy.
TO PREP GREEN BEANS FOR LATER:
BLANCHE GREEN BEANS
- Bring a large saucepan filled 2/3 with water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water. Add the green beans to the water. (Depending on how cool the beans are it will stop the water from boiling. Bring the pot back to a boil and cook the beans for about 4-5 minutes, or until crisp tender.
SHOCK THE BEANS:
- Use tongs to transfer the beans to the ice bath. Submerge the beans in the water and agitate them with the tongs so they cool very quickly and retain their bright green color.
- Stack several sheets of paper towels on the counter. Use the tongs to transfer the beans from the ice bath to the paper towels to drain.
- Wrap the beans in a dry paper towel and place into a zip top bag. Refrigerate until ready to heat. You can make the beans to this point anywhere from a few hours to a few days ahead of time.
TO FINISH THE BLANCHED AND SHOCKED GREEN BEANS:
- Heat butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.
- Add the beans and toss them into the butter garlic mixture with the tongs. Place the lid on the pan and heat for one minute or until the green beans are hot.
- Season with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Toss again with tongs transfer to a serving dish and Enjoy.