RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Green beans are still sometimes referred to as string beans—especially in the Northeast—but few varieties these days come with the fibrous “string” that ran down the length of earlier versions of the vegetable. Also known as snap beans, French beans, and runner beans, this vegetable family includes thin, tender haricots verts, and mild wax or yellow beans, among other varieties. Whatever variety you prefer, they all add flavor nutrition to your table when you use them in fresh green bean recipes.
At the market or farm stand, look for green beans that are slender, crisp, and free of spots. A fresh green bean will snap crisply in two and should feel slightly fuzzy or velvety to the touch. Green beans are best eaten immediately but will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days if they’re tightly sealed in a plastic bag. To prepare green beans, wash them in cold water and trim or snap off the tips. To French-cut beans into thin lengths, trim the ends and use a sharp knife to cut the beans lengthwise in half. Alternatively, you can use a fun kitchen tool called—what else?—a bean frencher to do this job.
Green beans are a very good source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and manganese and a good source of copper. The vitamin K in green beans (one cup provides 25% of your recommended daily value, or DV) is the bone builder, while vitamins A and C protect the heart and may also help prevent colon cancer and reduce inflammatory diseases, thanks to their antioxidant power. A cup of green beans provides around 20% of the DV for both vitamins.
The fiber in green beans (a cup contains 16% of the DV) can help lower high cholesterol levels and may protect against colon cancer. Folate (10% of the DV per cup) is good for your heart and helps prevent DNA damage and mutations in colon cells. And the copper and manganese in a cup of green beans (6% of the DV for copper; 18% for manganese) may help with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Following are some super ways to use this summery bean, courtesy of the Rodale Recipe Finder .
#1: Salad Nicoise with Basil Vinaigrette . Blanched green beans go perfectly in this version of classic Nicoise salad. For another unique salad option, try a String Bean and Fennel Salad  or enjoy a side of Green Beans and Carrots Parmesan .
#4: Country-Style Potato and Green Bean Soup with Ham . The addition of rich, flavorful ham or bacon is key in comfort-food dishes like this satisfying soup, or in tangy Pennsylvania Dutch Green Beans .
#5: Creole Shrimp with Green Beans and Corn-Scallion Grits . Tomatoes, celery, thyme, and red pepper add Creole flavor to this green bean-enhanced shrimp entrée. Or, for a quick and easy Asian-inspired dish, try a Chicken and Green Bean Stir-Fry .