The Single Ingredient That Makes Canned Green Beans Taste Expensive

Every well-stocked pantry should contain at least one can of green beans. They're nutritious, can be prepared in myriad ways from a sturdy, classic casserole to a gorgeous Israeli dish featuring cilantro, mint, cashews, and apricots, and — as any of us who have trimmed and snapped fresh green beans can attest — will save quite a bit of prep time. The only issue with canned green beans is that the taste can be, well, boring. Luckily, there's an easy fix that will make them come to life: a good simmer in broth or bouillon. 

If you think about it, green beans aren't different from tomatoes in the sense that sometimes canned is preferable to fresh. Adding broth-enhanced beans to a casserole is going to deliver more nuance and depth of flavor than freshly-snapped beans and reduce the cooking time to boot. Both regular cut green beans as well as French-style haricot verts are available canned. 

How to transform everyday into elegant

The simmering method can be lengthy or quick depending on how much time you've got to make your bean dish. If you have a few hours, combine the beans (with their liquid) as well as beef bouillon in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until the broth is almost completely evaporated. Then turn the heat off and let the beans marinate for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. If you need some flavorful green beans quickly, simply simmer them in broth for a half hour and drain. The result will be richly-flavored and suitable for many culinary applications, from soups to pot pies.

If you really want to spruce your beans up, feel free to add any one of a number of flavoring agents to the simmering pot: crumbled bacon (for obvious reasons), a luscious pat of butter, or a fat pinch of garlic powder. Our only admonition is to watch the salt content — canned beans are already salted, as are many store-bought bouillons and broths. So be sure to taste before seasoning, or buy the non-salted varieties.