If you’ve got a cast iron pan, you will want to cook green beans in it, I promise. Here’s the super easy technique, a variation on a “slow-sauté” (or a crowded sauté) that both softens and browns the vegetables at the same time. (Cast iron is particularly effective at this as it holds and distributes heat so well.) This is a technique you can use with any dense vegetable, including small-diced root vegetables. But don’t try it with high-moisture vegetables like zucchini which will soften too much before it browns.

I often add bacon or pancetta (no need to pre-cook, just toss pieces into the pan), and I vary the aromatic vegetables between onions, shallots, leeks, peppers, and mushrooms. But I always include at least one of these aromatics because they give off moisture as they cook, helping the green beans to cook in the process.

You can eat this just as it is or add a teaspoon or two of a balsamic vinegar-maple syrup mixture at the end. Or just shower with Parmigiano or drizzle with balsamic glaze.

I’m using a 10-inch cast-iron pan in this recipe, so the amounts here are appropriate. If you want to use a larger pan or a nonstick skillet, check out this similar recipe, Slow-Sautéed Green Beans with Shiitakes & Prosciutto.

Serves 3


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces medium-sized green beans, tails trimmed
  • 3 large shallots (about 3 to 4 ounces total), peeled and sliced lengthwise into ½-inch wedges
  • 4 ounces bell pepper (minis or any color regular), sliced thickly
  • 6-7 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with string
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ounces thick-cut bacon, torn into pieces (optional)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely ground Parmigiano, a drizzle or two of balsamic glaze, or a combination of 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional finishes)


1. Put the olive oil in a medium (10-inch) seasoned cast-iron skillet and heat it over medium heat.

2. When the oil is hot, add the beans, shallots, peppers, bunch of thyme, salt and bacon pieces (if using). Turn the heat up to slightly higher than medium or until the veggies are sizzling in the pan. You want to maintain a gentle sizzle.

3. Cook, stirring only infrequently at first but more often as browning begins to occur, for 18-25 minutes, or until the peppers and shallots are soft and well-browned and most of the green beans have some browning on them. (Some will be very brown.)

4. Remove from the heat, remove the bunch of thyme, add any optional finishes you would like, and stir.