The Best Way To Cook Flat Beans

From black beans to slender French green varieties, beans come in many shapes and textures. As a result, determining the optimal preparation method for each type can be tricky. And flat beans — also called Romano and Italian beans — are particularly confusing. Although they resemble long and slender green beans in form, they are a little stiffer for raw and quickly seared applications. However, they're also not a good fit for slow cooking, or else you'll end up with a mushy mess.

Instead, turn to quicker parboiling and braising methods for these hearty flat beans. You could sear the vegetables alongside aromatics first and finish cooking with a liquid, such as a ladleful or two of broth or stock. Alternatively, boil briefly and then imbue further flavor with methods like roasting, grilling, or sauteing. That bit of extra moisture makes all the difference and still leaves the vegetable with a delectable crunch. Plus, it's a crafty way to build additional flavors. The fibrous and bold beans align with a wide selection of additions.

Start flat beans in liquid for tender and flavorful results

As long as the flat beans spend some time cooking in a liquid or steam-based setting, they are malleable to additional techniques. You can simply boil them in salt water for under 10 minutes and cool in an ice bath. From there, they will pair well with sauces and vinaigrettes, for example, zingy vinegar and mustard combinations. Or, for another flavor-packed option, saute the parboiled beans with aromatics in a pan. They pair beautifully with garlic, onion, and chili flakes or more creative additions like anchovies and tomato. Alternatively, bring in some smoke by throwing the part-cooked beans on the grill; charcoal especially will yield a flavorful result. No matter which method you go for, consider spritzing your beans with some citrus and herbs once they're cooked, as they do well with bright flavors. 

The other principal method for preparing flat beans is braising. The vegetable tastes especially good when cooked in a little olive oil, and will turn a golden hue after five minutes or so. The thing to remember is that these beans are great at carrying bold flavors, whether it's through adding flavored broth, being sauteed with aromatics and spices, sprinkled with herbs, or a combination of methods. The beans will absorb all of the components, yielding a terrifically flavorful result.