I recently started to appreciate the incredible texture of Italian flat beans. Steamed and grilled with the right seasoning, they become tender with a citrus aroma and a fantastic tangy flavour. There is a beautiful crunch to these flat beans also, making them the perfect accompaniment to a plant-based dish which happens to be softer and mushier.
Since we are still sort of homebound for several more weeks, we decided to throw a party for two and enjoy a bbq with vegan sausages, vegan steak, some mango habanero salsa and these beautiful Italian flat beans seasoned with fresh mint and zesty lemons. The ingredients were married to perfection, and we are very pleased to have discovered yet another type of vegetable we now love.
Before going plant-based, I rarely paid attention to any type of green beans. I never really cooked with them either which is such a shame if you think about it. Nowadays, I pick new vegetables just to try and discover them and figure out how to cook them so they make the most sense (and are tastiest).
If I ever cooked flat beans, I always boiled them which resulted in a relatively tasteless vegetable. So I decided to try something different: steam them just enough to make them tender and preserve their natural earthy taste, then grill them so they char and become crunchier with a soft ashy taste in parts.
Combine this with the herby aromas of fresh mint and tangy flavours of lemons and you have a recipe for success.
What are flat beans?
Flat beans are also known as helda beans or romano beans. They have an edible pod and they are characterised by their wide and flat shape. They are normally cooked and served as a whole pod but if they are too long, you can cut them in half.
You can sometimes find them dried and stored but I personally only buy them as fresh flat beans from the local market.
How to prepare flat beans?
To start, you first need to top and tail the beans. To 'top and tail' means to trim both ends off of an ingredient. In this case, you need to remove the ends off of flat beans. If they are too large you can cut them in half.
Prepare a steamer. Put the flat beans in the steamer and season them with a little salt. Steam them for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, you can go ahead and prepare your grill. You can use any type of grill although the charcoal grill gives the flat beans that ashy flavour. If you don't have access to a grill, use a grill pan on your hob. The pan ridges will "cut" into the flat beans and make them slightly charred.
Once the flat beans are steamed, transfer them to the grill. Grill them for about 10 minutes, turning them once. They are done when they start to char at parts
In a small bowl, mix around 3 tbsp of olive oil, 3 tbsp lemon juice, freshly ground sea salt and pepper. This will be your flat bean dressing. Taste it and adjust the seasoning. Do you like it saltier? Add a dash more of salt. The pepper will give the dish a spicier kick. If you like a more acidic dressing, add more lemon juice, or more oil if you want a milder, softer flavour.
Other Sides You Need To Try
- Quick Carrot Mango Salad
- Tuscan Panzanella Salad
- Quick and Easy Gigante Beans
- Quick and Easy Bulgur Salad
When the flat beans are grilled, transfer them to a serving plate. Add the dressing over them and scatter some fresh mint leaves over the flat beans dish. Serve immediately and enjoy!
This recipe has been developed entirely by Yuzu Bakes. Any resemblance with other recipes is purely coincidental.