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June 10, 2009

Green Beans and Lemon: Now It Can Be Revealed


There is a time in a person’s life – usually sometime between the first new car they buy and the first down payment they put on a mortgage – when it becomes evident that money does not grow on trees. It is around this time that, when people buy food, they conclude that they should probably get the most out of their investment by actually eating said food. While this isn’t always true of canned food – whose pantry does not have in some hidden, unexplored fold a can of sauerkraut older than the foundation of the house – it is certainly true of things like fresh meat and vegetables.


Yet somehow, people seem to wind up with things that they do not entirely enjoy eating. Perhaps it is some subliminal siren song played through the grocery store muzak – “the fresh green beans call you closer, to nestle you to their bosom . . . come to us” – or perhaps it is a strange pheromone-based gas released into the air, but people tend to wind up with fresh vegetables that once outside the store they say to themselves, “This does not excite me and I cannot for the life of me figure out how I wound up paying $2.50 for it.”


We spoke of green beans, and we intend to keep on this theme. The green bean itself is not an inspiring food. In fact, it just kind of sits there, looking green and tubular. It is almost as if it means to say, “Eat us, don’t eat us; we just don’t care.”


You should care, which is why you should be acquainted with the pairing power of green beans and lemon. Little has been made about the combination of green vegetables and fresh lemon juice. It is almost as if it is a secret meant to keep the vegetables down.


It starts by steaming green beans until they are softened while at the same time just a little crisp. This is the point when the potential of the green bean is most fully unlocked. This will take about 10 minutes, although the time will vary based on number of beans to be steamed.


While this is taking place, place some minced garlic and olive oil over a moderate heat. Once you can smell the warmed garlic hang in the air, add some chopped onion and begin softening. Once these become translucent, squeeze over the top some fresh squeezed lemon juice. The ratio should be a full lemon to maybe eight cloves of garlic. That is, if you only intend to serve for a few people, squeeze the juice from just part of a lemon directly into the pan.


Cook it down to where it will coat the beans and cling to them, and then – just before you turn off the heat – add some dill. Stir this in with the warmed beans, and serve. Even if your children avoid eating them, you can continue in confidence that this is a food that demands attention.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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