This grilled Italian flat green beans recipe is simple yet bursting with flavour. Blanched Italian green beans are tossed with olive oil and grilled to perfection until crisp on the outside but still tender and juicy on the inside. Deliciously sweet with a mild nutty undertone, Italian flat beans offer a delightful taste with a soft texture. Seasoned with a drizzle of zesty lemon, parsley and garlic dressing, these grilled flat green beans are a wonderful addition as an appetizer or side dish to any meal.
What are Italian green beans?
Italian green beans are also known as Romano beans, Green Romano beans, Italian flat beans, flat green beans and runner beans. These particular beans have a characteristic flat and broad shape and are longer and wider than the traditional green beans or ‘haricots verts’. When these flat beans are fresh they feel very firm and make a snapping sound when broken in half. Fresh Romano beans are usually available from spring to fall, but you can find them all year round in a can, jar or frozen.
All types of green beans are healthy to eat as they are low in calories and high in fibre, yet contrary to other types of beans, you cannot eat these flat beans raw so they should be either cooked, sautéd, grilled, steamed or braised. Also try these Italian flat beans with garlic and onion or stewed with chicken and bell peppers.
Why you will love this recipe
- Key Health benefits: Romano beans are high in fibre and low in fat and calories, and since they are also a great source of various other vitamins and minerals they are a perfect part of any healthy diet.
- Versatile: These beans can be prepared in a grill pan either outside on the barbecue or inside on the stove top and as they can be eaten warm or cold, they are perfect to serve as a side dish with an outdoor / camping meal but also as an appetizer or side dish at a formal evening meal.
- Quick and easy: As this recipe is made with minimal ingredients and not much work at all, it’s a quick, easy, straightforward dish to prepare but with maximum flavour.
Grilled flat beans ingredients
Apart from the dressing, this grilled green bean recipe only needs a few simple ingredients:
- Italian flat beans: Use fresh flat beans that are firm to the touch and have an equal green colour without brown or soft spots. You could use frozen beans, however, frozen Romano beans are mostly pre-cut in pretty small pieces making them best for other recipes, but not really this one. But if you do find frozen whole beans you can just follow the same steps, although the cooking time will be different.
- Olive oil: Use a good quality olive oil that is suitable for grilling.
- Salt: To flavour the beans while grilling I sprinkle them with either coarse sea salt, fleur de sel or kosher salt.
Which dressing to use
While grilled flat beans have plenty of flavour by themselves to serve as a side dish with just a pinch of salt and olive oil, adding a dressing elevates their taste even more. I have chosen to use a parsley/lemon based dressing as both ingredients pair very well in a dressing. And even though these grilled Romano beans can be served either hot or cold, this lemon-parsley dressing can be drizzled cold over the beans in both cases to provide some extra freshness.
- Parsley: Use fresh parsley for this dressing, either curly or flat-leaf is fine. Both have a slightly different flavour profile, each giving their unique taste to this dressing.
- Garlic: Maximum 1 clove of garlic will do for that extra pungent taste.
- Lemon: I use both lemon zest and fresh squeezed lemon juice.
- Olive oil: As with any dressing or vinaigrette, use a good quality olive oil for the best results.
- Salt and pepper: To taste, for some extra seasoning.
To make the dressing, add all the ingredients (quantities are described in the recipe card below) in a food processor and mix until thoroughly combined.
When making this dressing by hand with a whisk, make sure that the parsley and garlic are very finely chopped. Add all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk well until combined.
How to make this flat bean recipe
The best way to obtain nice crisp, tender grilled flat green beans is to first briefly cook them in a large pot of boiling salted water. Another option is to steam the beans instead of boiling them. To start by grilling the beans without first par-cooking them will take too long and they will most likely just burn on the outside while remaining raw inside.
So, just follow the steps below for the best grilled beans:
- Prepare the flat beans: Wash the beans properly, trim off and discard both ends. You can cut the beans in half, or leave them whole, which is what I prefer to do.
- Cook the beans: Bring a pot of water to a boil, add some salt and cook the beans for 6-7 minutes. Drain the water and transfer the beans in a bowl with ice cold water. This is optional but will ensure the beans maintain their bright green colour. Leave to cool and drain again. Pat the beans properly dry with a kitchen or paper towel.
- Prepare the grill: Meanwhile prepare the grill. Depending on whether you’re grilling the beans on the barbecue outside (either on charcoal or a gas grill), or in a grill pan on the stove top, you can start the heat now.
- Grill the beans: Coat the beans with a thin layer of olive oil and lay them out side by side so each one touches the hot surface. Work in batches if needed. Grill for about 3 minutes each side until slightly charred. While grilling, sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
- Make the dressing: Prepare the parsley lemon dressing by mixing parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Or prepare your dressing of choice.
- Serve: Serve either warm or cold with a drizzle of your favourite dressing and freshly chopped parsley. Season with some extra pepper and salt to taste.
Can I make this in advance?
This recipe with flat beans lends itself perfectly to being prepared up to 2 days in advance, either partially or completely.
After par-cooking the beans by either steaming or boiling them, leave to cool then thoroughly pat dry and store covered in the fridge.
You can also prepare the whole recipe, including boiling and grilling. Allow to cool and store covered in the fridge. Either serve cold or warm them in the microwave or in a pan on the stove and apply the dressing just before serving. Beans that have already had dressing put over them may not store so well, they might get soggy while in the fridge.
Serve these grilled flat beans as a side dish at an outdoor party, camping meal or evening dinner any night of the week. You can consider serving them alongside such main dishes as these:
- Creamy butternut squash pasta
- Vegetarian lentil bobotie
- South African bobotie
- Pan fried trout
- Chicken saltimbocca with ham and sage
- Grilled chicken kabobs
- Moules marinieres
Grilled Romano beans are also great to serve as a vegetarian appetizer with crusty bread, ciabatta or focaccia.
Grilled Italian flat green beans
- 1 pound (or 450 grams) Romano beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- coarse sea salt
For the dressing
- ⅓ cup parsley
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
For the flat beans
- Wash and trim both end of the beans. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a pinch of salt. Cook the beans for 6-7 minutes. Drain and pat dry with a clean towel. Optionally after cooking transfer the beans in a bowl with ice cold water and leave to cool. Drain and pat dry.
- Coat the beans with a thin layer of olive oil.
- Place a grill pan or skillet on the stove or prepare the grill. Once the pan or grill is at medium heat, place the beans side by side in the pan or on the grill.
- Make sure the whole bean touches the hot surface, don't place them on top of one another. You may have to work in smaller batches.
- Grill approximately 3 minutes each side until slightly charred. Sprinkle with coarse salt while grilling.
For the dressing
- In a blender, combine parsley, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Blend into a homogenous mixture.
- Add the dressing and fresh parsley then serve the grilled or charred Romano beans on a plate.
- Transferring the beans after cooking to a bowl of ice cold water will allow the beans to maintain their bright green colour. But, this step is optional.
- The beans need to be properly dry before grilling otherwise they won’t char nicely but will instead further steam themselves on the grill and will likely end up soggy.
- Cooking or steaming: If you have a steamer, you can opt to steam the flat beans instead of cooking. Again, pat dry properly before grilling.