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Everyone eats green beans. But who eats bean greens? Well, you do now! It might seem strange to pick the leaves off plants you’re normally prizing for their pods, but bean leaves are in fact edible and taste like a milder version of their podded counterparts. When pureed into a pesto, bean leaves add a deeper, greener, earthier element to these slender French beans. The bean-on-bean flavor is rich and savory, with a warm charred aroma. If picking leaves off your own plants, spread the harvest across the whole crop so you don’t affect the growth of the pods.

Pan-Charred Beans with Bean Leaf Pesto [Vegan]

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Ingredients You Need for Pan-Charred Beans with Bean Leaf Pesto [Vegan]

For the Pesto:
  • 2 cups (60 g) packed bean leaves
  • 3 tablespoons (23 g) pistachios
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) olive oil

For the Beans:

  • 2 tablespoons (28 ml) sunflower oil
  • 1 pound (455 g) French beans (haricots verts)

How to Prepare Pan-Charred Beans with Bean Leaf Pesto [Vegan]

For the Pesto:
  1. To make the pesto, add all of its ingredients (except the oil) to a food processor and pulse until crumbly, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Continue pulsing and add the oil in a steady stream until well blended. Set aside.

For the Beans:

  1. Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. Swirl in the oil and spread the beans across the pan in a single layer. Fry undisturbed until the beans are lightly charred on the bottom, about 2 minutes.
  2. Shake them up and cook until the beans are tender, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the beans to a serving dish and top with the pesto.
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The bean leaves used in the pesto can be harvested from any common bean plant (Phaseolus vulgaris), as well as fava bean, lima bean, runner bean, winged bean, and yardlong bean. Young leaves are preferred for raw preparations, as they’re more tender. If you don’t have any bean leaves, substitute parsley or another mild green, like pea shoots or spinach.

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