Flat green beans – also known as Romano beans, Italian flat beans, runner beans and pole beans – are a nice change from the more common variety of green beans.
They make a delicious side dish when quickly blanched, charred and drizzled with a simple vinaigrette. Just 10 minutes!
The beans are flat and wide with wavy edges and about 10 inches/25 cm long.
You can find these fresh green beans, native to Italy, at your local farmer’s market or in select grocery stores. Some people refer to them snap beans because they snap crisply when broken in half if they are ripe.
Flat beans can be boiled, sautéed, steamed, braised or grilled. I love the smoky taste from charring them on the grill. A dental hygienist, Maria, turned me on to them.
My favorite way to prepare the beans is to blanch them first for a couple of minutes in the microwave or in boiling water. This maintains a beautiful bright green color and shortens the grilling to just a few minutes.
If you don’t have a grill, you can char them in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
Flat green beans are sweet and tender with a bit of crunch. Lemon zest and mint are perfect garnishes, but check out other options in ‘tailor to your taste’.
What to serve with flat beans
Since this side dish recipe is simply prepared, the green beans pair with just about any protein. Their vibrant color adds pizzazz to your food presentation. Here are a few suggestions for what to serve with the flat beans.
- smoked chicken thighs (without a smoker)
- lemon herb chicken (with an easy cool technique)
- sous vide chicken thighs (as pictured below)
- grilled marinated flank steak
- juicy grilled pork chops
- Canadian maple cedar plank salmon
According to Wikipedia, there are 130 varieties for edible pod beans. To simplify, they fall into two basic types – bush beans and pole beans. Italian flat beans fall in the pole group. Bush beans grow on short bushy plants about 2 feet/0.61m tall. Pole beans grown on tall climbing vines up to 12 feet/3.6m. Pole beans are sweeter than bush beans and can be used in most common string bean bean recipes.
Yes. They are a good source of vitamin A, K, C, protein, folate and fiber, making them heart healthy. They are also known as a low FODMAP food which is good for people with digestive issues according to Healthline.
Figure about 1/3 of a pound (150g) per serving. About 4-5 beans.
Yes. If they cook too long, they can turn mushy or glutinous.
How to make this flat beans recipe
Tailor To Your Taste
- Use any vinaigrette you like (about 2 tablespoons). Add red pepper flakes for some heat if you like.
- lemon zest and mint leaves are a great combination for the flat beans
- try a few drops of sesame oil or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction.
- add crushed toasted nuts for crunch
- sprinkle on 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds
- sprinkle with Italian seasoning
- Buy a good vinaigrette dressing
- Blanch the green pole beans and place them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry and keep on counter for several hours of overnight in the fridge.
- When ready to serve, grill beans (or char in a cast iron skillet) for a few minutes until you get a nice char on the beans. Toss with vinaigrette.
Other green bean recipes or snap pea recipes to love
Flat Green Beans (charred)
- Grill or cast iron skillet
- 1 pound (450g) flat green beans, tips cut off
- Garnish options: lemon zest, chopped fresh mint leaves, sea or kosher salt. Note 1
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (or wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (or more)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- optional: 1 tsp honey or maple syrup; 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.
- HEAT GRILL: to medium high. Fill large bowl with cold water with a cup of ice.
- BLANCH FLAT GREEN BEANS: °Option 1 in microwave: Place washed trimmed beans in a large microwave-safe bowl or plate. Cover with plastic wrap or another plate. Microwave on high for 1 1/2-3 minutes. You just want the beans partially cooked and flexible. Cooking time will depend on microwave wattage and covering (covering with plastic wrap takes less time). °° Option 2 in boiling water: Alternatively, place beans in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain. Immediately drop blanched flat beans into bowl of ice water for 2 minutes to keep vibrant green color. Remove beans and pat dry with paper towel.
- MAKE VINAIGRETTE: Whisk together lemon juice, Dijon, garlic, salt, pepper in a small bowl or measuring cup. Slowly add oil while whisking until well blended. Shortcut: use a store bought vinaigrette dressing instead.
- GRILL: Lightly spray beans with oil. Place them in a single layer on grill (perpendicular to grates so they don't fall through). Grill for 1-2 minutes until charred to the way you like them. Flip and grill other side. Don't overcook or they will become mushy. Note 2 if you have no grill.
- FINISH AND SERVE: Transfer to serving platter. Drizzle on dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle lightly with sea or kosher salt. Garnish with 1 tsp lemon zest and chopped fresh mint leaves if desired (note 1). Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Garnish options:
- a few drops of sesame oil or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction.
- crushed toasted nuts for crunch
- add 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds
- sprinkle with Italian seasoning
- Instead of grilling: Heat oil in a cast iron pan or large skillet to medium-high heat. Add beans and cook in hot oil for a couple of minutes until you get a nice char. If beans are too long, cut them in half.
- Make Ahead
- Blanch the flat green beans ahead as per instructions above and place them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry and keep on counter for several hours of overnight in the fridge.
- When ready to serve, grill beans (or char in a cast iron skillet) for a few minutes until charred. Toss with vinaigrette and add garnish.