Unusual vegetables, organic and grown on a small farm. The way I look at it–delicious recipe inspiration. When our CSA box holds unique Romano snap beans, just-picked garlic and aromatic summer savory, all in the same week, you can bet I’m going to figure out something new to make. Thus, Romano beans gremolata.
Gremolata—doesn’t the word have a pleasant roll off the tongue? Minced garlic, lemon zest, and classically, finely chopped parsley, gremolata is the vibrant garnish I learned in culinary school. And quickly forgot.
Did I lose track of gremolata because it is the common condiment for osso buco, Milanese braised veal shank, and well, as a vegetarian and a career baker, meat isn’t my world?
When I heard Farmer John was harvesting Romano beans for our Ranui Gardens CSA box, gremolata crept back in my brain. What was that garnish with garlic, fresh herbs and lemon zest? Why not use fresh savory instead of parsley; they’re both green and fresh?
As the name hints, Romano beans are an Italian heirloom varietal of snap beans. They’re string-less and prized for their outstanding flavor and crisp, meaty yet delicate texture. Romanos have flatter and wider pods than their cousins, our standard round green bean, and the skinnier French haricot vert.
Out of the ordinary already, Romano beans become extraordinary when topped with gremolata. Particularly when fresh summer savory stands in for the parsley. Romano beans gremolata–CSA inspired!
- Snap the ends off with your hands—after all they’re snap beans.
- A microplane zester with its sharp cutting teeth is the absolute best kitchen tool for effortless scraping of the outer zest from citrus fruit. If you don’t already own this essential, order one now. Here’s my Amazon affiliate link to microplane zesters.
Serve these delicious beans warm, at room temperature or refrigerator-cold—they’re stellar any which way. Make it easy, prep ahead; cook the day before and rewarm at the last minute. If you like, sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, chopped almonds or hazelnuts adding crunchy protein.
- 2 handfuls Romano beans, about 8 ounces
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (see note)
- 2 tablespoons summer savory, finely chopped
- Pinch Real Salt
- Snap the stem ends off the beans. In a pot, bring about 2 inches of water to a boil, barely enough to cover the beans. Add the beans and cook until the beans are tender, 5 to 10 minutes. (see note)
- While the beans cook, prepare a bowl of ice-cold water. As soon as the beans are crisp tender, transfer them to the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside.
- In a skillet, over very low flame, warm the olive oil and garlic until the garlic is soft, about 5 minutes, but do not let the garlic get brown.
- Toss the beans into the garlic and oil. Cook about 2 minutes, to reheat and coat the beans with oil. Season with salt. Transfer to a serving plate. Pour any extra garlic oil over the beans. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and chopped savory. Serve warm or cold.
- Romanos need more cooking time than regular green beans. If you use the round green beans, just cook them for a shorter amount of time, until they are tender yet still crisp.
- Use organic lemon if possible—you are using the outside rind where pesticide residue remains. If you don’t have organic, wash the lemon thoroughly.