Today, in the Meatless Monday kitchen, we are featuring two recipes for beans, as well as bean growing, storage and preparation tips from our Vermont Fresh: A Fruit and Vegetable Handbook.

Potato and Green Bean Saladbeens
Serves 8-10

4 Cups cubed red skin potatoes
2 Cups fresh green beans
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
4-6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (optional)
¼ Cup chopped fresh parsley
¾ Cup mayonnaise
1-2 Tbsp prepared mustard
¼ Cup pickle relish or salad cubes
3 Tbsp sugarbeens and potato salad
1 ½ tsp salt

Set potatoes to boil on high heat in salted water to cover. When a fork slips in and out easily, drain and let them steam dry and in a colander, then refrigerate until cool. Remove the stem end of the green beans and snap into short pieces. Cook in a covered sauce pan in 1” salted water until tender, then drain and refrigerate until completely cool. Meanwhile, thoroughly mix the last five ingredients in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add the vegetables, onion, celery, chopped eggs and parsley. Stirring up from the bottom of the bowl with a spatula, mix the salad together. Refrigerate overnight to let the flavors blend. If it seems there’s too much dressing, don’t worry – the potatoes will absorb it overnight.

NOTE: I’m quite unhappy with this photo and hope you won’t want to print it. None of these turned out well!!

salad nicoiseSalad Niçoise
Salad Niçoise is a composed salad which typically includes canned or cooked tuna, boiled potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and Niçoise olives. It’s dressed with a vinaigrette and served on individual plates or from a platter with or without a bed of lettuce. It may include other items like avocado, roasted beets, artichoke hearts and crisp red peppers.

Native to South or Central America, string beans did not appear in Europe until the Age of Exploration. String beans are very similar to dried beans but are harvested earlier in the growing cycle, meaning that the seeds (beans) are immature and the pod is still tender. String beans are sometimes called “snap” or “green” beans, even though they appear in several different colors. Early varieties of the string bean had a tough, string-like fiber running along their pods, hence the name. In the late 1800s, American growers developed the string-free beans that we know today. Green, yellow, and purple varieties are common. Some types are “bush” beans, which have short, sturdy vines, and others are “pole” beans, meaning they climb upwards. Today, beans are one of the most common vegetables in the country.

Growing Tips
Beans are tender and cold-sensitive, meaning that you should not plant them until frost is no longer a threat. Transplanting is not recommended for beans; instead sow the seeds directly. Beans should be planted in sunny, warm, well-drained soil to reduce the risk of rotting. If planting pole beans, you will need to construct a trellis or teepee for the vines to climb. Bean teepees are a fun garden project for kids and can be made with just a few sticks and/or string. For a steady supply of beans, sow seeds every 3 weeks and pick often. If oversized beans stay on the vine, production will slow, so be sure to pick off old beans even if you do not intend to eat them. Try to pick beans in dry weather to prevent the spread of disease among plants.

It is best to use string beans as soon as possible after picking, but they will keep well in the refrigerator for several days if loosely wrapped in a plastic bag. Do not wash or cut the beans until you are ready to use them.potatoes and beans

Rinse beans. Snap the stem-like ends off the beans with your fingers (snapping rather than cutting prevents breaking the inner beans, but cutting will also work). Beans can be simply steamed or incorporated into a variety of recipes. To freeze: snap or cut beans into desired lengths. Steam 2-3 minutes, drain, chill, and pack into freezer bags. When you are ready to use the beans, remember that they are already partially cooked!

Nutritional Benefits
Beans, technically legumes and not vegetables, are rich in protein. String beans are high in vitamins A, B-1 (thiamin), and B-2 (riboflavin), calcium, and potassium. They also contain significant quantities of iron, which is vital to read blood cell health.

To receive more recipes and tips on your favorite fruits and vegetables, downloadVermont Fresh: A Fruit and Vegetable Handbook. We also need more volunteer home chefs for this project.

Vermont Foodbank fresh food initiatives would not be possible without your support.Please consider giving to the Vermont Foodbank today!