Eat your green beans

Allow me to digress for just one second.

Peanut butter, cinnamon rolls, Doritos, apple pie, lettuce, and broccoli are some of the foods that I discovered after the age of 16. Long time ago when I was growing up in India, where eggplant is brinjal, a bell pepper is capsicum, and gas is petrol (although I don’t see how that fits here), these food items were not readily available, if at all. When my cousins from the US visited us during their summer vacation, it was always exciting to see which packaged foods they would bring with them. Cereal, Kraft Mac-n-Cheese, Pringles, Kool-Aid, and Pop Rocks were our instant favorites. Saying bye to them at the end of summer was disheartening not only because we wouldn’t see each other for another couple of years, but also because it marked the end of the “exotic” food stash.

These days when I go back to India to see friends and family, we eat out at Subway, Dominos, Pizza-hut, Baskin-Robbins. The grocery stores there are chock-full of everything that sells in the grocery stores here. Kids there don’t eat parathas for lunch anymore; they want PB&J sandwiches, chips, and Pizza-hut. It might sound like the long-standing food traditions are losing out, but in reality, the percentage of the population that can afford these upgrades is small. I wouldn’t worry about those parathas just yet. And in all honesty, we Indians can never truly let go of our need to eat hot, greasy, and spicy foods. As good as peanut butter and jelly tastes, it will never really win over the crowd.

Okay, so that was more than a second.

Green beans fall into the category of foods that didn’t exist in my childhood. Even today, green beans have not become part of my regular diet like broccoli and lettuce have. I do enjoy a good GB casserole at Thanksgiving, but for the rest of the year I rarely ever think of them. My nephew who is 8, rates green beans as his top 3 favorite foods next to cheese pizza and ice cream. Good for him because GBs are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese. They are very good source of vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and iron. And, green beans are a good source of magnesium, thiamin, riboflavin, copper, calcium, phosphorus, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and niacin (source).

Here’s a green bean recipe that I think he’ll approve of. It’s clean, simple, and flavorful with the least of efforts. It’s more of a method than a recipe and can be tweaked to make it more garlicky, spicy, or cheesy.

Roughly 4 cups green beans (I used Trader Joe’s brand frozen green beans).
5 cups water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ to 1 cup bell peppers (optional. I used Trader Joe’s tri colored frozen pepper medley for flavor and color).
Kosher salt to taste.
¼ cup or more grated Parmigianino Reggiano

Boil water and blanch the green beans for up to 8 minutes. If you are starting with frozen ones like I did, it takes about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, heat up extra virgin olive oil on medium heat. Add red pepper flakes and chopped garlic. Once you start smelling the garlic, add the pepper medley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Add blanched and drained green beans to the saucepan. Toss. Add kosher salt to taste. Turn off heat after 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle boat load of cheese and eat. Good while hot, at room temperature, or straight out of the fridge the next day.

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer based in Raleigh, NC. She writes about everything from travel, food, books, and family. Her current project includes a series of children's books to teach Hindi. She is a native Tar Heel who has also lived in Washington DC and Chicago.

One thought on “Eat your green beans

  1. i love this story. Isn't the reverse true now? Foods from India have now become the “exotic” food stash? I want parathas for lunch…

    Like

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