CSA BLOG: Radical Romano Beans

This week’s share includes the delectable treasures that are Romano beans. Unfamiliar with these beans? No problem – here’s a quick profile on them!

Romano beans are a form of flat snap bean which originated in Italy. Many Italians cook with these beans when they are In season. Like other snap beans, Romano beans are supposed to be eaten whole. They are considered ripe when they make a crisp “snap” if they are broken in half. Romano beans are often braised with other summer vegetables and eaten as a side dish, and they can also be added to soups, stews, stir fries, and assortment of other dishes. Romano beans are also referred to as Italian flat beans or Italian snap beans, but don’t confuse them with fava beans, which are sometimes labeled as “Italian broad beans.” Romano beans are pole beans, which means as they grow they love to climb as they grow.

Romano beans are flattened, rather than rounded. To use them, cooks snap or trim off the ends and rinse the pods to remove any dirt from the field. The beans may be lightly cooked to retain their crunchy texture, or cooked until they are extremely tender. However, overcooking will cause Romano beans to turn into a tasteless mush, so cooks should take care when preparing Romano beans in braised and other long-cooked dishes.

In addition to being available in classic green, Romanos also come in yellow and purple, for cooks who like to play around with different colors in their cooking. For optimal consumption, Romano beans should be stored in paper bags and used within a few days.

Braised Romano Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Romano beans
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Fresh herbs, such as thyme or oregano (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Trim ends off beans and rinse in cold water. Lightly crush and peel garlic. Cut large cloves in half or quarters.
  2. In a large frying pan or saute pan over medium heat, cook oil and garlic until fragrant and just turning golden, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add beans, with water from being rinsed clinging to them, and stir to mix with oil and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and add water. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until very tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove cover, increase to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until water evaporates and beans start to brown a bit. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
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