When it comes to cooking up vegetables in a flash, the convenience of frozen veggies is hard to beat. You can keep them in the freezer for months on end, always knowing a healthy side dish is available whenever you need it. But are frozen veggies as good as the real deal?
The first thing you need to understand about frozen green beans is that you need to lower your expectations substantially: they will never, ever, be able to stand in perfectly for fresh green beans. This is not altogether a bad thing! Fresh green beans are your only option if you want a bean that’s got a bit of crunch left in it.
When green beans are flash frozen, their water content quickly transforms into jagged ice crystals that break down the beans’ sturdy cell walls. Once that’s happened, there’s no going back. Once they’ve thawed, they’ll always be a limp, flaccid bean. But just because their texture has changed doesn’t mean they no longer taste delicious, nor does it mean they don’t have a purpose. Think of them as an entirely separate food from fresh green beans; once you treat them like their own thing, you’ll realize there’s a world of culinary opportunity at your fingertips.
Here's everything you need to know to make frozen green beans taste delicious.
Melt a stick of butter into a cast iron pan over high heat; once it’s bubbling, toss in an entire bag of frozen green beans. Cook for five minutes, then drop the heat to medium low. Add some salt and pepper and let cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have shrunken and dried, with some caramelizing into a rich mahogany brown.
Stew Them With a Tomato Sauce
In the Middle East and Mediterranean, green beans are often served simmered in a variety of tomato sauces. Sauté a bit of garlic and oil into a sauté pan, then add a can of crushed tomatoes and, if you wish, some spices. Try turmeric, salt and pepper for a Middle Eastern take or cloves, cumin, and oregano for a Greek version of the dish. Add frozen green beans and simmer for about 25 minutes or so until the sauce has thickened a bit.
If you’d like to make your green beans taste a bit more indulgent, stir in a tablespoon or two of butter at the end.
Stick to Roasting
Cooked in an extremely hot oven, frozen green beans crisp up into something spectacular. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil. Thaw green beans and blot well on paper towels, then toss with olive oil, salt and pepper; spread out on baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Give the beans a good stir and roast for another ten minutes, then check and keep adding time until they’re cooked to your liking. Serve as a side to your main dish or roast other veggies with the green beans to create a warm, hearty salad.