This Italian green beans recipe with garlic and onion is a simple but very flavourful side dish. It is very easy to combine with lots of other dishes and is great to serve as an appetizer.
What are Italian green beans?
Italian green beans are also generally known under the names of romano beans, flat beans and runner beans. They have a characteristic wide and flat shape and can grow up to 25 cm in length. The fresh beans are at their best when they feel firm and give a snap when broken in half. In most countries, fresh flat beans are available all year round. However, you can also find them canned, in a jar or frozen.
Romano beans are low in calories and high in fibre which makes them perfect for a healthy and balanced diet. Make sure to always cook, sauté, braise or steam the beans since they cannot be eaten raw.
Ingredients to make Italian green beans
Note: All the exact quantities of the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Italian green beans: I have used fresh Italian green beans for this recipe. You could also opt to use canned or frozen beans to make this recipe. The canned Romano beans are normally cook already, so you could skip the first step and immediately fry them. With frozen beans you will need to check on the instructions of the package if they still need some extra cooking time or not.
- Garlic and onion: Fried garlic and onion is a combination made in heaven and works perfectly with these Italian flat beans.
- Chilli pepper (optional): Adding a chilli pepper in this recipe is optional. I decided to fry one dried Spanish chilli pepper (whole, not cut open) to add some extra heat to this flat beans recipe. Don’t forget to remove this chilli pepper before serving to avoid someone unexpectedly taking a bite out of it! (or just warn everyone)
- Olive oil: Frying the garlic, onion and Italian flat beans in olive oil gives them that delicious Mediterranean taste. Use a good quality olive oil, preferably extra virgin.
- Lemon juice: A squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end of the cooking time lifts up the flavour and adds a bit of freshness to this Romano beans dish.
How to make flat beans with garlic and onions
First wash them with clean tap water, then trim the ends of the beans and slice them in to 3 cm (or 1 inch) sections with a sharp knife. (A blunt one won’t work very well) Meanwhile, bring some water to the boil in a medium cooking pot. Add the beans and a pinch of salt to the boiling water and cook for 8 minutes. Drain the water and let the beans cool down.
Finely dice the onion and cut the garlic in thin slices (again, preferably with a sharp knife, and you can use the same one you just used to slice the beans if you like, saves extra washing up) and fry together with the dried chilli pepper in olive oil for 2 minutes in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cooked flat beans and sauté for 5 minutes while stirring occasionally. At the end of the cooking time, add some fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can replace the fresh beans in this recipe with canned green beans or beans from a jar. Since they are usually cooked already there is no need to precook them before frying. Drain the water from the jar or can and add them to the fried garlic and onion mix. Bear in mind the frying time will now be lower, otherwise they will become too soft. Just make sure they are warm and completely coated with garlic, onion and olive oil mix.
Can you make this dish with frozen flat beans?
Yes, but you need to check the instructions of the cooking time on the packet. They will most likely be pre-cooked, but most probably not enough. So follow the instructions first and then the rest of this recipe
As a side dish, the taste of Romano beans or Italian green beans goes very well with a wide variety of other ingredients and dishes. It compliments well with either fish or various other types of meat dishes. This side dish pairs really well with these recipes:
- South African bobotie or mince curry casserole
- Spanish rice with chorizo and tomatoes
- Wild boar stew with mushrooms
- Lemon grilled calamari rings
- Tartiflette or French potato casserole
- Moules mariniere
- Chicken saltimbocca
- Normandy chicken with apple and cider
This recipe is also great to serve as a healthy appetizer or starter / first course. Serve with some French loaf, Spanish tomato bread or farm bread to soak up all the juices.
Italian green beans with garlic and onion
- 500 g (1 lb or 17 ounces) Italian green beans or Flat beans
- 2 cloves garlic finely sliced
- 1 small onion finely diced
- 1 dried chilli pepper whole, not cut
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- salt to taste
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- Wash and trim the ends of the beans, then slice them into 3 cm (or 1 inch) sections. Bring some water to the boil in a medium pan and add a pinch of salt. Add the sliced beans to the boiling water and cook for 8 minutes. Drain the water and set the beans aside.
- In a skillet or frying pan, heat the oil and add the sliced garlic, chilli pepper and chopped onion. Fry for 2 minutes on medium heat. Add the cooked beans together with salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook for 5 minutes while stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, then add the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste and serve.
- This dish can very easily be prepared in advance then kept in the fridge and later served as a cold side dish or appetizer, which is very nice on a warm day. This dish is also perfectly edible at ambient or room temperature.
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Just made this for the first time.Ate with Rainbow trout – glorious combination! I am a rubbish cook, but you can’t go wrong with this recipe.
Thanks so much. I’m so glad you enjoyed the food and the recipe.