It takes just 5 minutes to cook green beans excluding the time for water to boil. It’s so simple anyone can do this. After just five minutes you can dress your green beans in a variety of ways and eat immediately or chill for eating later. I shared this simple technique with a friend recently and she told me her kids will now eat green beans. It will help you get a quick vegetable dish on the table for your family and there are many things you can do with 5 minute green beans.
How to Cook 5 Minute Green Beans
Cooking something briefly in boiling water is called blanching. It’s a restaurant trick used with vegetables to partially cook them for heating or finishing at a later time. Green beans cook perfectly in five minutes and stay bright green. They are perfectly tender, not gray, overcooked or soggy.
Cooking green beans this way can be served immediately with a splash of olive oil and a little salt and pepper. If you want to dress them up a bit more, add a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs, chopped nuts, citrus zest, or even pomegranate seeds. If cooking for eating later, immediately plunge the cooked green beans into a bowl filled with ice water. Chill a few minutes and then drain, dry and refrigerate for 4 days. Just heat and dress as desired.
To save time cleaning the green beans (snapping off the stem end), buy the ready-to-cook baby green beans widely available in produce sections these days. They are sometimes called French green beans or haricot vert. These tender, slim green beans are my favorite. Figure about 2 ounces of raw fresh green beans per person.
What to do With 5 Minute Green Beans
- Simply dress with olive oil, salt and pepper, plus a little fresh chopped parsley or other herb
- Add chopped nuts such as walnuts, pecans, pistachios or pine nuts for crunch and texture
- Sprinkle with citrus zest for color and flavor
- Use a “fancy” finishing oil, such as walnut, hazelnut, white truffle
- Make a cool green bean, tomato and corn salad. This is great for warmer weather
- A more dressed up side dish, Green beans with shallots, pecans and pomegranate seeds
- Top green beans with oven-roasted baby tomatoes (which you can make ahead in 20-25 minutes)
- Drizzle with store-bought or homemade Balsamic syrup
- Use green beans as part of a Salad Nicoise along with cooked or smoked salmon or chicken for a full-meal salad
- Toss with sauteed mushrooms (I often use sliced shitake mushrooms) and a little toasted sesame oil and ginger for Asian flavor
Quick and Easy Green Beans
- 12 ounces fresh baby green beans aka haricot vert
- 1 tablespoon sea salt for cooking water
- Salt and pepper to season after cooking
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- chopped pecans, pistachios or pine nuts, a drizzle of Balsamic syrup, oven-roasted baby tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, citrus zest, fresh chopped herbs.
- Fill a large pot (5 quarts or liters) 3/4 full with cold water. Bring to a full boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. The water will bubble up wildly. Drop green beans in and set timer for 5 minutes. Ready a strainer or colander to drain cooked green beans. Dress as desired and serve while hot.
- Note – If you are cooking green beans ahead for future use, ready a large bowl of ice water. When 5 minutes is up, move green beans to the ice water. When cold (just a few minutes), drain and refrigerate. Cooked green beans will keep 4-5 days in the refrigerator.