What’s the best part of Italian Green Beans? Could be the tender-crisp beans. Maybe it’s the crispy parmesan panko crust. Or perhaps it’s the buttery flavor with a perfect hit of garlic and fresh herbs. If that hasn’t sold you, wait until you hear that this green bean side dish only takes about 15 minutes to cook.
I really dig a super flavorful, yet very simple, green bean side dish. Simple, garlic green beans are a go-to side dish for my family year-round, though they’re especially fabulous in peak summer months.
But I’d be a lying liar if I didn’t say that the absolute best green bean recipes are the ones that go bold, with layered flavors from nuts, bacon, cheese, and herbs.
I love ’em all, from the classic Green Beans Almondine to the intense Garlicky Green Beans with Crispy Shallots. When I crave rich or umami flavors I reach for Green Beans with Bacon or Roasted Green Beans with Mushrooms.
And when I want “simple with a twist”, I reach for these Italian-style green beans. They’re still quick and easy, but the crunchy parmesan breadcrumbs give this recipe that extra special “something” without extra special time at the stove.
What Are Italian Green Beans?
First things first – there are literal “Italian green beans” as well as “green beans served Italian-style”. So this two-part question is going to get a two-part answer.
Italian green beans (also called Italian bush beans) are flat and wide. They resemble fat snap peas. They’re not common in American markets, but I’ve occasionally seen them at farmer’s markets. They taste just like string beans, and you can cook them the same ways too.
Speaking of string beans…The long, thin green bean used in this recipe is a string bean – and there’s nothing inherently Italian about it. You could also use French green beans (also referred to as “haricot verts” by French people, pretentious people, and pretentious French people). Haricot verts are slimmer, sweeter, and just slightly more tender than string beans because they’re harvested sooner.
If you can find real Italian green beans, use ’em! If you love haricot verts, use ’em! (but cut down on the cooking time – they steam a minute or two faster); but like I said, for this simple summer side dish we’re using regular American style green beans to make…
…Italian-style green beans!
The Side Dish
Green beans served Italian-style incorporate the flavors and textures you know and love from Italian cuisine in a quick, easy, and flavorful package.
Steamed green beans are tossed with garlic, buttery breadcrumbs, and Italian seasoning. Think of them as deconstructed green bean fries, or the side dish version of Parmesan Crusted Chicken.
What to Serve with Italian Green Beans?
This simple side dish packs a lot of flavor, so I pull out this recipe when I want to go bold all around. Do keep the flavor profiles similar. For side dishes, we like to pair these green beans with Classic Italian Potato Salad, Tossed Italian Salad, or seasoned Potato Wedges.
For main dishes, green beans lighten up hearty pasta dishes like Italian Meat Sauce, Sunday Sauce, or Italian Sausage Soup.
How to Make Italian Green Beans
Crispy, buttery Italian Green Beans are an easy and quick side to compliment a host of other flavorful dishes. Toss steamed green beans (fresh or frozen) with a crunchy mix of panko breadcrumbs, grated parmesan cheese, garlic, and herbs.
- Steam the green beans using your preferred method, then strain.
- Meanwhile, prepare the Italian-style topping. Combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute, tossing occasionally, until the breadcrumbs are lightly golden brown.
- Add the butter, fresh parsley and/or basil, and seasonings. Toss and continue cooking until the butter melts and the breadcrumbs are a deeper golden brown.
- Add the steamed green beans to the skillet, then remove from heat. Give everything a good toss, and garnish with more fresh herbs if desired. Serve warm, and enjoy!
- Don’t swap panko breadcrumbs for plain or Italian breadcrumbs. Panko absorbs less oil and moisture, thus retaining its crispness when tossed with steamed green beans.
- Grated parmesan is a must, but it doesn’t need to be fresh, hand-grated. Do make sure it’s 100% cheese with no fillers or additives. Look for the plastic tub – usually in the deli or dairy section – not the shelf-stable plastic jar.
- Steam green beans in the microwave, or on the stovetop. Make sure they’re crisp-tender, and not too soft.
Are these Green Beans Healthy?
First of all, green beans in almost every form are healthy! Contrary to the popular tune, while beans are good for your heart, green beans are a low FODMAP food (i.e. less gas). They’re low cholesterol, low calorie, and low sodium, and a great source of fiber and protein. Plus, green beans are a significant source of vitamins C, A, and a bevy of other vitamins and minerals.
While this recipe incorporates butter and bread crumbs, depending on your dietary needs, both can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. Feel free to use unsalted butter or ghee as needed. You can also substitute gluten-free panko breadcrumbs depending on your dietary needs.
Can I Use Frozen or Canned Green Beans?
You don’t need fresh green beans for this recipe. Frozen are fine to use – simply steam as directed on the package. We recommend using whole, not cut, beans.
Avoid using canned green beans. They’re sweeter and softer which will significantly alter the taste and texture of the finished dish.
Did you try these Italian green beans? I’d love to know how the recipe turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- Microwave safe bowl
- 1 lb green beans, ends trimmed
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ c panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ c grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp chopped fresh basil and/or parsley
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- Steam the green beans. Combine green beans and ½ c water in a large microwave safe bowl. Cover with a plate. Microwave 4 minutes for crisp tender beans. Drain and set aside.
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the bread crumbs are toasted and have a bit of color, 3-4 minutes.
- Add the butter, parsley and/or basil, italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Toss until well combined, and continue to cooking until the butter melts and the bread crumbs mixture is evenly golden brown all over.
- Add the steamed green beans to the skillet. Remove from heat and toss until evenly coated with the toasted breadcrumbs. Garnish with more fresh herbs, if desired, and serve right away.
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