Try lemon, nutmeg or thyme with garden fresh beans

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Green beans were formerly called string beans, but today strings are practically nonexistent and we prefer our beans slightly underdone and crisp, a result best obtained from steaming and stir-frying. More than any other vegetable, green beans lend themselves to variation and teaming with other vegetables, nuts, meats, and cheeses. There are also many ways to use leftover cooked beans or cold, marinated beans.

The natural flavors and nutrients of green beans are best preserved by steaming or stir- frying them and nothing can compare to young, slender beans picked from your own garden in the late afternoon, to be eaten that same night. Here are some recipes. Lemony Green Beans (Steamer Method) 1 pound green beans Salt and pepper to taste 2 tablespoons margarine 2 tablespoons lemon juice 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Wash green beans and snip ends. Tie into 4 individual bunches and place in steamer or on rack over boiling water. Cover and steam 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Remove and toss immediately in a saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat to evaporate moisture. Reduce heat and toss briefly with salt, pepper, and margarine. Add lemon juice and parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4. Stir-Fried Green Beans 1 pound green beans 2 teaspoons cooking oil (not olive oil) 3/4 cup water or chicken broth

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Put beans in a nonstick skillet or wok, along with oil and water or broth. Cook and stir over high heat until all liquid evaporates, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Green beans combine well with salt pork, Canadian bacon, picnic ham, smoked meat, and sausages. Greek, Arab, Turkish, and Lebanese recipes often include lamb with the beans. The following recipe can be doubled. Lamb Stew with Green Beans 4 tablespoons oil, preferably olive 2 pounds stewing lamb, trimmed of excess fat and cut into bite-size pieces Salt and pepper to taste 4 onions, sliced thin 1 clove garlic, chopped 1 1/2 tablespoons flour 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon thyme 2 pounds green beans, stemmed, and cut into 2-inch lengths 1 20-ounce can Italian tomatoes

In skillet, heat oil, and brown lamb well on all sides. Season with salt and pepper. Remove and reserve lamb. discard all but 3 tablespoons of fat. In fat , cook onion and garlic until translucent. Stir on flour and seasonings. Over bottom of baking dish, arrange a level layer of beans. Over beans, arrange lamb pieces. Over lamb, arrange a layer of onion mixture. Over all, pour tomatoes. Bake, covered, at 325 degrees F. for 1 1/2 hours, or until lamb is tender. Serves 6. Green Beans with Sour Cream 1 cup sliced mushrooms 2 tablespoons oil 4 cups green beans, cooked 1 cup sour cream 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Brown mushrooms in oil. Add beans, cream, salt, and pepper and heat thoroughly. Serves 6. Hot Green Bean and Bacon Salad 2 pounds fresh green beans 3 slices uncooked bacon, diced 1 onion, minced 1/2 cup vinegar 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Wash beans, cut into diagonal strips, and cook in salted water until tender. Drain and keep hot. Fry bacon until crisp. Add onion. Stir for a minute and add vinegar, letting it boil up once. Pour over beans. Add pepper and serve hot. Serves 6. Green Beans with Cheese 4 cups green beans, cooked 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1/8 teaspoon cayenne 3/4 cup cheese, grated 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 1/3 cup cream or evaporated milk

Arrange beans in greased baking dish. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Add 1/2 cup grated cheese, 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, and cream or evaporated milk. Stir until well mixed. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and dot with remaining butter or margarine. Bake in a 400 degree F. oven about 20 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.

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