Since You Asked: Keep French green beans crunchy

I have found fresh, bagged, French green beans at a local supermarket. What is the best way to prepare them so they stay a little crunchy?

— Ellise P., via email

These small, thin green beans also are known by their French name, "haricots verts." We like them a little crunchy, too, and they're easy to overcook.

Most basic preparations for these beans start with quickly blanching — for less than a minute — in boiling salted water, then "shocking" in ice water to stop the cooking process. Then the beans can be served cold, tossed in vinaigrette or quickly sauteed in oil or butter.

Here's one method, plus a recipe for roasting the beans:

Place trimmed green beans in a skillet with about 1/4 cup water, 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and about 2 teaspoons minced garlic. Cover, bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes. Uncover and let water cook off, leaving seasoned oil behind. Toss beans and serve.

Roasted Haricots Verts and Tomatoes With Arugula

1 pound haricots verts, stems removed but ends left untrimmed
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
2 big handfuls arugula
Sherry vinegar, as needed

Preheat oven to 450 F.

On a foil-lined baking sheet, toss the haricots verts and tomatoes with the oil and a big pinch each of the salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven until beans begin to brown on tips and tomatoes soften, about 30 minutes.

Mix warm vegetables with the arugula, add a splash of the sherry vinegar and additional salt and pepper if needed; serve immediately.

Makes 2 dinner-size or 4 first-course salads.

Send questions to "Since You Asked, A la carte" Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; email to

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