Haricots Verts

Haricots verts (ah-ree-koh vair), or green beans, are usually cooked whole. The beans should be bought very fresh so that they snap when they are bent. Allow about 4 ounces of beans per person.

To prepare the beans, cut off the tops and tails with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. If any of the beans are very large, trim the edges to remove the strings.

To cook the beans, put enough water in a medium-sized saucepan to make a

1 inch layer. Add

1 teaspoon of salt and bring the water to the boil over high heat. Add the beans and bring the water back to the boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer the beans for 5 to 15 minutes or until they are tender but still firm. The length of the cooking time depends on the age and size of the beans. The best way to test the beans is to remove one from the water and bite it to feel if the texture is correct. Drain the beans in a colander and transfer them to a warmed serving dish. Top the beans with a little butter and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

If the beans are to be reheated or served cold, they should be drained after cooking, washed in cold water and drained again. If the beans are to be reheated, melt 1 ounce butter in a medium-sized saucepan over moderate heat. Add the beans and heat for 3 minutes, shaking the pan, or until the beans are coated in the butter and are very hot.

The beans may be served cold in a salad or with French or vinaigrette dressing, in which case, do not coat them with butter.

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