Growing up in the South we always had a big garden in the summer: corn, potatoes, peas, onions, tomatoes, peppers and lots of green beans! One of my daily chores once the green beans came on was to pick the beans. This required stooping over or squatting down to pull the beans off the low bushes. I despised picking those beans. I wasn’t too fond of breaking the stems off of them either, which is something that also had to be done once they were picked. I did however love to eat them and what I wouldn’t give now for a garden full of fresh green beans! Funny how time changes one’s perspective.
- Tambi Lane Photo
- In-season green beans are delicious sauteed and topped with bacon bits and bleu cheese
This particular green bean recipe wasn’t a childhood favorite. It came along later in life when my own children were young and I was trading recipes with other parents who were, like me, trying to get the kiddos to eat their vegetables. The friend who shared the original green beans with bacon recipe with me believed something similar was once upon a time on the menu at The Pine Tavern. Who knows if that’s truly the case or not. I do know that this dish is always a hit.
What started as a simple weeknight dinner side hoping the kids would eat something green eventually made its way onto holiday tables and into potluck parties and somehow became the star of just about every side dish spread in which it made an appearance. The picky non-vegetable-eating niece, the never-eats-anything-green brother and even the grandma who preferred her green beans cooked “to death” (the way green beans are typically cooked in the south) started requesting these green beans at Thanksgiving.
If you don’t eat bacon or you don’t like bleu cheese, you can still make these green beans. The bacon drippings add exceptional flavor and the bacon bits are a nice crunch of course, but olive oil and butter or just olive oil also flavors them well. Toasted almond slivers or other chopped nuts of your choice can add crunch in place of the bacon bits. And you can substitute any cheese you like in place of the bleu cheese. Feta is a nice replacement but any cheese works. Cheddar, Swiss, pepper jack – take your pick. It’s really about how the soft cheese feels against the slight crisp of the green beans. The bleu cheese has a nice sharp taste that contrasts with the mild flavor of the beans but all cheese is good here so go with what you have on hand or with what you like best.
Green beans are in season now in Oregon. Look for firm, evenly colored beans and trim them by pinching or cutting off the stems. Snap the beans in half or leave them long, either way. Be sure and rinse them in cold water before cooking them.
Sauteed Green Beans with Bacon Bits & Bleu Cheese
Serves 4 to 6
· ½ pound bacon, cut into small pieces, optional
· 1 – 2 tablespoons reserved bacon drippings or olive oil/butter
· 1 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
· ¼ to ½ cup water
· Salt & Pepper to taste
· 1/4 cup Bleu cheese (or Feta cheese)
· Reserved bacon bits or slivered almonds or other nuts
Fry bacon until crisp in large skillet or wide pot. Drain bacon on paper towels and set aside. Leave a tablespoon or two of bacon drippings in skillet and add ¼ cup water. Turn heat to medium and add green beans.
If bacon is not your thing, simply heat a combination of olive oil and butter in skillet before adding green beans. Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt and pepper on top of beans.
Cover and simmer until beans are crisp-tender, adding more water if necessary to keep beans from sticking to skillet.
Sprinkle your choice of cheese on top of tender beans. Add bacon bits to top of cheese. Turn heat off and cover the beans with a lid until cheese melts. Stir melted cheese and bacon bits into beans before serving.