Authentic Italian Green Beans Recipe

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This delicious Italian green beans recipe originates from my Italian family. It uses a particular style of beans often generally referred to as Italian green beans. However, you may have heard them called Roma, Roman, or Romano beans.

italian green beans recipe

The recipe I’m sharing with you is very simple, it takes 25 minutes to make. This green beans Italian recipe produces a flavor you won’t find with regular green beans, no matter how Italian you try to make it.

The first time I had these was when I was visiting Italy many years ago. I was young and didn’t even know how to cook anything, much less Italian green beans.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law cooked fresh Italian green beans all the time, and so when I was first married I learned from her. I also learned from my father-in-law how to grow them which I explain in another post.

I’m so excited to share this super easy family recipe with you!

About this Italian Green Beans Recipe

I’ve seen many recipes for how to cook Italian green beans, and there’s a big problem I have with the majority of them.  

Many fellow food bloggers will take regular bush beans, like Kentucky Wonder beans and try to make an Italian recipe from them by adding Italian herbs and cheese and calling it Italian.

It doesn’t work. Italian green beans are a different shape, different texture, and totally different flavor.

But friends, these green beans are in a class all their own, even making their way on my Italian Christmas dinner menu! So, if you’re looking for an authentic Italian green beans recipe that is truly Italian in origin, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s get started.

How to Cook Italian Green Beans

Since Italian green beans are not like the typical Kentucky wonder string bean, this means you don’t cook them the same in recipes either.

You’ll notice the difference right away when you see them, these Romano beans look flat and long in shape, not thin and round.

what an italian green bean looks like

In this post I’ll explain how to cook Italian green beans whether they are frozen or fresh. What to look out for and some helpful cooking tips. I know you’ll enjoy these just as much as we do.

And by the way, if anyone in your family doesn’t like green beans, don’t let that dissuade you from making this recipe. The flavor and taste are totally different!

Steps for Cooking These Amazing Beans

So you’ve grown your own Italian beans and are ready to start cooking them. When cooking fresh Italian green beans, there are a few steps you need to follow before you toss them into the saucepan.

I’ll step you through them here. If you’re ready to jump to the recipe, you can do that here too.

Trim and Cut the Beans

The first step is to prepare your freshly picked Italian green beans for cooking. Unfortunately, we can’t just pick them and cook them. We must prepare them first.

trim the green beans and remove the spine before cooking
  1. Clean the green beans with water and remove any lose dirt
  2. Remove the spine. This is the string-like spine that runs down the side. These do not cook away and we want to make sure they don’t make it in our final dish.
  3. Trim off the hard tips. You can snap them off with your hand or use a knife.

Do Not Cook the Fresh Italian Green Beans Whole

Unlike regular Kentucky Wonder beans, these flat shaped beans need to be cut. They are denser and thicker and we want to make sure they are fully cooked.

For this step, cut the fresh Italian Green Beans into thirds or fourths. You want the length of each piece to be about 1 ½ inches long.

How to Cook Fresh Italian Green Beans over the Stove

italian green beans cooking over the stove

Now we are ready to know how cook the Italian green beans! All you need is a small or medium sauce pan depending on how many beans you have, garlic, salt and olive oil. Do not overload the pan.

  1. Heat the olive oil in your sauce pan over medium heat
  2. Add the fresh Italian green beans. Do not pile them up high. You will need to make sure there is room for you to stir so they cook evenly.
  3. Add in a small amount of water for steaming – about a ¼ cup. It’s okay to have some water in the bottom of the pan as you don’t want the beans to burn.  
  4. Add in some crushed or sliced garlic and stir.
  5. Now you can reduce the heat to low and cook covered for about 20 minutes.

You will know when the beans are fully cooked when the color changes from the bright green to an olive green. They will become very tender, not tough at all.

Make sure to check periodically that they do not start to burn. There should always be a little bit of water on the bottom of the pan.

So now you know how to cook your fresh Italian green beans. But what about frozen Italian green beans?

How to Cook Frozen Italian Green Beans

Since you can’t always grow fresh Italian green beans year-round, you many need to resort to buying them from the store. You’ll find them in the freezer section, but be warned they are hard to come by.

The benefits of cooking frozen Italian green beans from the store rather than using fresh beans, is that the beans are already cut and trimmed for you. The problem is finding the beans as they are hard to come by.

To cook frozen Italian cut green beans, follow the same process above, except you can cut back a little on the water. Just make sure they don’t burn during the cooking process.

Where to Buy Italian Green Beans

Not all grocery stores supply frozen Italian green beans and if they do, they may not always stock a lot of them.

If you can grow them in your own garden I strongly recommend it and make sure to save some raw seeds for the following year. Here’s an image of what mine look like:

Growing fresh italian green beans

If you’re looking for seeds, there are different Italian bean varieties so I recommend checking out different sites such as GrowItalian.com. They have different types and I grew some this past year and they all tasted great!

Is it Better to Use Frozen or Fresh Italian Green Beans in this Recipe?

When cooking vegetables as a side dish, I typically tell you that fresh is always better. But in this case, whether you use fresh or frozen Italian green beans for this recipe, it doesn’t matter. I find that they both taste almost the same.

However, there are always benefits to growing your own vegetables. Italian beans are easy to grow and if you have the space, I encourage it.

Plant more than you need for the summer and freeze the extra beans to use during the off-season months.

How to Season Italian Green Beans

italian green beans with olive oil and garlic

Italian green beans can be easily seasoned by cooking them in the olive oil and garlic. Add a small dash of salt to help enhance the flavor.

Season these Italian beans with some garlic, olive oil, and even a small handful of fresh basil or some chopped tomatoes.

You can also sprinkle Italian Romano or Parmesan cheese on top if you’d like, but it is unnecessary. I recommend keeping this recipe simple when seasoning your Italian beans.

There are a variety of ways you can cook and serve this healthy dish, be creative!

What Does this Side Dish Go With

This Italian green beans recipe goes great with breads and pastas or my Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onion recipe.. It also is a good side dish for chicken cutlets and other chicken recipes.

Here are some examples of pasta dishes that cooked Italian green beans would complement well:

Other Healthy Side Dishes You May Enjoy

If you like this recipe, you’ll most likely enjoy my other side dishes too that are super healthy.

italian chickpea salad

How to Make Chickpea Salad – If you’ve never tried a chickpea salad, it’s super easy and healthy!

italian zucchini flower blossom recipe

How to Make Pan Fried Zucchini Flowers – This recipe is perfect for summer days where you want the crunchy-ness of something fried without feeling guilty!

I hope you enjoy my Italian green beans recipe below. If you have your own versions, share them in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

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Grazie!

Liz

how to make italian green beans recipe

Italian Green Beans Recipe

A simple recipe for cooking Italian green beans
3.50 from 4 votes
Print Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • Italian Green Beans
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Dash of salt
  • water
  • fresh basil (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat extra virgin olive oil over and garlic over medium heat in saucepan
    add garlic and olive oil
  • Add frozen or fresh green beans
    add green beans
  • Add in a small amount of water for steaming (more water to cover if fresh beans)
    add water
  • Give a stir
  • Lower stove to low heat, cover and cook about 20 minutes or until tender.
    cover and cook on low 20 minutes
  • Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.
    serve warm

Notes

Tip #1: As the beans cook, they will turn into a darker more olive green color.  This lets me know it’s almost done.
Tip #2: Add some fresh basil for some extra flavor. It tastes great!
Tip # 3: The reason for crushing the garlic is that it lends a good overall flavor without overpowering the beans. If you were to mince the garlic, the aroma would be stronger. But prepare it however you want it, that is the joy of cooking!
Tip #4:  Keep an eye while cooking these and add more water as needed to prevent burning.
Authentic Italian Green Beans RecipeAuthentic Italian Green Beans RecipeAuthentic Italian Green Beans Recipe

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