I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never used Romano beans until recently. They’ve been off my culinary radar, never to be seen at any of the places where I shop for food. This summer a friend grew them in his garden, where they multiplied prolifically. And my discovery of them is thanks to his surplus. Perhaps even better than ordinary green beans, they’re fantastic in simple dishes like this sauté of Romano beans with summer squash.
Cooked in a little olive oil and embellished with fresh tomatoes, black olives, and chile peppers, this is a great summer side dish that comes together quickly. I used shishito peppers, also courtesy of my gardening friend, but jalapeño or any other hot chili pepper (or even dried hot red pepper flakes) will do.
First, a little about Romano beans. As you can see from the photos, it’s kind of flat, with the beans encased in a slightly fuzzy shell. Both the tip and the tail should be trimmed, and thankfully, they don’t have strings to deal with.
Romano beans are also called Italian pole beans and are considered a kind of snap bean. Their true season is mid-summer through early fall. You can replace ordinary green beans with them in any kind of recipe, hot or cold.
Once my friend turned me on to them, I made the mistake of buying some rather large and gnarly ones at a farm market and wow, what a difference. Once they were cooked tender enough to eat, they had lost all their color and flavor. So make sure to use smaller Romano beans; they’ll feel tender to your touch, even before cooking — and cooking can be kept to a minimum, just until they’re bright green and tender crisp.
For a modest amount that comes together quickly, follow the amounts given in the recipe; if you have a bumper crop of any of these veggies, it can be doubled easily.
- 8 to 10 ounces Romano beans
- 1 medium yellow summer squash, quartered lengthwise and sliced
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 to 2 small hot chili peppers, seeded and minced
- 1/3 cup chopped briny black olives
- 2 to 3 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Trim the tips and tails from the Romano beans and cut (or snap) longer ones in half. Combine with the squash in a medium sauce pan and a little water.
- Cover and steam the beans and squash briefly, just until both are not quite tender-crisp.
- Drain off the water, then drizzle in the oil. Add the chiles, olives, and tomatoes. Turn up and sauté for 2 minutes or so, stirring often, just until everything is nicely warmed.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve at once.
If you can't find Romano beans, tender summer green beans work well as a substitute.