Green beans are usually picked while still immature and while the inner beans are just beginning to form in the pod. As such they are typically eaten in fresh (versus dried) form, pod and all.
TIP: Just prior to using the green beans, wash them under running water. Remove both ends of the beans by either snapping them off or cutting them with a knife. Alternatively, snip off the stems with your fingers, boil the beans in salty water until they're just tender, drain them, and spread them out on a kitchen towel to air-dry. Next, make a simple vinaigrette (olive oil, lemon, and maybe some parmesan), or an herb pesto. Or go a totally different route and sear the beans in a skillet (or roast on high heat) until they're nicely caramelized, maybe adding a little finely minced garlic at the last minute.
STORAGE: Green beans keep well in an unsealed plastic bag for up to a week.
RECIPE: Pesto Potato Salad with Green Beans from Smitten Kitchen (serves 10)
1. Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add beans; cook four minutes longer. Drain well and let cool, then transfer potatoes and beans to a large bowl.
2. Meanwhile, discard the stems from the basil and wash and dry the leaves. Puree them in a food processor with garlic, drizzling in enough olive oil that it gets saucy. Season the pesto with salt and pepper (alternately, you can swap this step with one cup of prepared pesto, but seriously, I think you’ll be missing out).
3. Toss the beans and potatoes with pesto. Stir in vinegar, green onions, pine nuts and season with salt, pepper and/or additional vinegar to taste. Finally, shave some wide flecks of parmesan over the salad with a vegetable peeler.
4. Serve immediately, or make this up to two hours in advance. It can be stored at room temperature.