Green beans are delicious dressed simply in olive oil and coarse salt while they are still warm. I like to infuse the olive oil with lemon zest to up the flavor ante just a bit, but you could also buy a lively Lemon Oil from LeRoux. An herb flavored salt, like MV Sea Salt’s Lemon Verbena and Dill would be nice, too.

I’m not a fan of undercooked beans. Certainly you don’t want your beans (in this kind of preparation—braising is another thing altogether) to be overcooked, but you don’t want them to be rubbery or chewy either. The trick is to submerge them in boiling salted water and to then begin tasting after a few minutes. Usually about five minutes is good for an average-sized garden green bean, but very thin ones will get pliable in less time. Just sample a bean or two to see if you can bite through without resistance. 

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 pound green beans, stem ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons Lemon Oil (see below) or best quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1. Fill a large saucepan half full with water and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Arrange a few layers of dishtowels on a work surface to drain the beans. Add the beans to the boiling water and begin timing immediately. Boil until the beans are tender to the bite but still green, 5 to 7 minutes. (Begin tasting after 4 minutes; depending on the age of the beans and how quickly your stovetop brings water back to a boil, there can be a wide range in doneness times.)

2. Drain the beans, or use tongs to lift them out of the water, and spread them out on the towels to let excess moisture drain and evaporate, about 5 minutes.

3. Transfer the beans to a shallow serving dish and drizzle most of the oil over them. Sprinkle with some of the sea salt. Toss gently and add more oil until the beans are thoroughly coated. Sprinkle on more salt, toss, taste and add more if desired.  Serve warm.

Serves 4

Lemon Oil

Combine 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (use a rasp-style grater) and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Add a few grinds of pepper if desired.