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Fresh green beans are best when cooked crisply, seasoned lightly

There are gardeners and cooks who eagerly await the annual crop of fresh, crisp, green beans, and can easily make a meal of them, quickly boiled and simply tossed with butter and salt and pepper to taste.

This year has been designated as the year of the bean and the ubiquitous bean is easy to grow. It can be found in one variety or another everywhere in the United States.

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Types of beans vary widely, from the flat-podded Romano, tender and stringless, or the pole types that require so little space that they can thrive on a patio or sunny porch.

Since the season for fresh beans is fairly long, you should try them in exotic and interesting ways.

Beans take kindly to herbs and spices, particularly sesame or poppy seeds, dill, or basil, and can be served hot in a butter sauce, or cold in a vinaigrette. They are a good complement to lamb and veal, and a popular ingredient in a salad Nicoise.

If you still insist on beans, plain and simple, try cooking them using the following method. Crunchy Green Beans Snap ends off beans. Wash, then drop into large kettle of boiling salted water. Boil, uncovered, for 4 to 6 minutes, until just cooked through. Drain immediately.

Run cold water into kettle to set color and texture. Drain, and dry in a clean towel. Toss in a skillet over medium heat for several seconds to evaporate moisture, then toss with butter, salt and pepper until just heated through. Green Beans with Cheese Casserole 4 cups cooked green beans 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon cayenne 3/4 cup grated cheese 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 1/3 cup cream Arrange beans in greased baking dish. Season with salt and cayenne. Add 1/2 cup cheese, 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, and cream. Stir until well mixed. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and dot with remaining butter or margarine. Bake in a 400 degree F. oven about 20 minutes. Serves 6 to 8. Creole Green or Wax Beans 2 tablespoons chopped onion 1/2 green pepper, chopped 3 tablespoons fat or cooking oil 11/2 tablespoons flour 11/2 cups tomato juice 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper 3 cups cooked green or wax beans Cook onion and green pepper in fat or oil until onion is yellow. Blend in flour. Add tomato juice gradually and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and beans. Heat thoroughly. Serves 6 to 8. Green Beans and Carrots with Walnuts 3/4 pound green beans 1 1/2 pounds carrots 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel 1/2 cup broken walnut meats 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt Cut beans into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Pare and slice carrots. Cook vegetables separately in salted water until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter with lemon peel in small skillet. Add walnuts and toast lightly over moderately low heat, stirring constantly. Drain vegetables and combine with walnut-butter mixture and seasoned salt. Turn into serving dish. Serves 6 to 8. Foil-Wrapped Green Beans With Mushrooms and Onions 1 pound green beans 1 small onion, diced 1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 2 tablespoons water Salt and pepper Snap beans diagonally into small, easily cooked pieces. Place in center of a square of heavy duty foil and add all other ingredients. Bring foil up over vegetables. Seal to make a tight package. Bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 40 minutes. Serves 4. Hot Green Bean and Bacon Salad 2 pounds fresh green beans 3 slices uncooked bacon, diced 1 onion, minced 1/2 cup vinegar 1/8 teaspoon pepper Wash and remove strings from beans. Cut into diagonal strips and cook in salted water until tender. Drain and keep hot. Fry bacon until crisp. Add onion. Stir for a minute, then add vinegar, letting it come to a boil. Pour over beans. Add pepper and serve hot. Serves 6.

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