Green beans don’t exactly have the best reputation among kids. Can you blame them? The beans are often drab green, overshadowed by vegetables that, well, look more appealing. But with a little science know-how, the underdog veg can reach its full green-beany potential—and before you know it, your kids will be fighting over the last green beans as if they’re french fries.
The secret? A lot of salt. And not “a lot” as in a tablespoon. We’re talking a whopping ¼ cup of salt. How does it work? Cooking green beans in supersalty water seasons them all the way through due to a process called diffusion. Believe it or not, they come out perfectly seasoned. And because green beans cook faster in salty water, they hold on to their bright-green color. On the other hand, green beans cooked in unsalted water take longer to cook and come out bland and dull.
Here’s how you can see the science in action:
- Add ¼ cup of table salt and 1 pound of trimmed green beans to 2 quarts of boiling water. Return the water to a boil, and cook for 6 minutes.
- Drain the green beans, add them to an ice bath, and let them cool for about 1 minute. Drain the beans and pat them dry with a dish towel.
- Serve them how you like, or toss them in a dressing of 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and ⅛ teaspoon of table salt.
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