My husband visited a friend this week. Upon leaving, the friend presented him with a bag of beans.
When my husband came home, he said, “I brought you some more green beans.”
I let out an audible sigh. I’d already picked and preserved quarts of green beans from two, short rows in our own garden. That will be plenty to last the winter. I really didn’t need more green beans to prepare, especially while in the process of painting two rooms.
However, when I opened the bag, the contents were not like the beans I have always grown. They were Romano beans. I’ve only seen Romano beans in seed catalogs and cookbooks. I’d never tasted them.
They are a flat snap bean that originated in Italy. They can occasionally be found in gourmet grocery stores or at farmers markets and are available at this time of year.
Romano beans are often referred to as Italian flat beans or Italian snap beans. They are different from fava beans, which are also called Italian broad beans.
Romano beans are often eaten whole. They can be steamed, boiled or braised. The easiest and most efficient way for me to prepare the quantity I’d been given was to boil them, since I planned on using them in several dishes.
The beans can be eaten alone as a side dish, or they can be added to soups and salads. There are even recipes for preserving them in a vinegar brine.
Romano beans are easy to prepare. One simply needs to remove the stems from the tender beans and wash. It is recommended to cook the young beans just enough to retain their crunchy texture.
My husband and I were impressed with the flavor of the Romano beans, and I may even devote a row or two of my own garden to growing them next year.
If you are lucky enough to find some fresh Romano beans this season, give them a try.
How to Boil Romano Beans
1. Fill a large pot half full of water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and cover pot with a lid. Bring the water to a rolling boil.
2. Add washed and trimmed beans to the pot of boiling water.
3. Boil beans until tender. Remove from the pot and serve as desired.
The beans can be simply served with a splash of olive oil and salt and pepper. In Italy, cooks will often add garbanzo beans or potatoes to make a hearty entrée.