Golden Braised Green Beans

by Kim Sunée • September 30, 2020

Yield: 6 to 8 • Total Time: COOK TIME: 1 1/2 HOURS MIN

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photo by Kim Sunée

I always feel a little frantic at the end of summer, making the most of preserving, pickling, and rushing to put up of all sorts of late-summer fruit and vegetables before the season ends. On the list this week: wild blueberry and lemon verbena freezer jam; quick soy sauce pickles; strawberries in a light lavender syrup; and carrot-top pesto to divide up into ice cube trays for sudden bursts of summer in the colder months ahead. 

And piles of fresh green beans (aka string beans or haricots verts) have been all over the farmers’ markets and grocery stores. As much as I prefer to keep the cooking of fresh summer vegetables to a bare minimum, one of my favorite ways to cook green beans is to treat them to a slow-cooked bath of lemon juice and olive oil, sometimes with onion and tomato, and lots of fresh herbs. This version gets a little extra richness with the addition of coconut milk and deep flavor from turmeric and hot curry powder. Sometimes, depending on what I have on hand, I’ll add in carrot, cauliflower, corn or small new potatoes. This side dish travels well—it’s great hot or room temp—for outdoor gatherings or desk-side lunches and tastes even better the next day and will keep, covered, in the refrigerator up to several days.


  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed (see note below for frozen green beans)
  • 1 medium onion, cut in half and both halves thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced (plus more thinly sliced for garnish)
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 tablespoon hot curry powder or garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (or lime or orange)
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • About 2 cups water or broth
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro, parsley, or dill
  • 1 (14-ounce can) coconut milk, shaken
  • Optional Garnishes: chopped red onion; lime wedges; chopped fresh jalapeños; chopped tomato; thinly sliced garlic, fresh herbs; toasted shredded coconut; toasted almonds


  1. Rinse green beans and discard any that are mushy or brown. Snap or trim the stem ends; discard. Place trimmed green beans in a large pot set over medium-high heat. Add a layer of onion and garlic; add ginger, curry powder, and turmeric, if using, over onions. Squeeze lemon juice over and add about 1/4 cup good olive oil and 1 1/2 cups water or broth. You want enough liquid to braise the beans, just below half the amount of beans, but not to cover completely. Season generously with salt (start with 2 teaspoons) and pepper. Bring liquid to a low boil; reduce heat to medium-low (look for a few gentle bubbles on the surface); cover pot with lid and let beans cook over medium-low heat for about 50 minutes; after about 30 minutes, I sometimes leave partially covered. No need to stir but check every twenty minutes or so to make sure there’s at least a few inches of liquid in bottom of pot. Add more liquid as needed.  Beans should start to break down a bit and become very tender. Add carrots and fresh herbs.  Let cook, partially covered, another 20 minutes.  Add coconut milk and stir gently.  Let cook, uncovered, another 15 minutes or so.  Taste and add more salt and lemon juice, as needed.  Serve warm or at room temperature, and with some of the optional garnishes.  Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 4 days.   NOTE: *If using frozen thawed green beans, reduce cooking time; check after about 30 minutes before adding carrots. 

    **Replace coconut milk with canned tomatoes and add at same time as onions and garlic. Add a handful of olives to braise.  Top with feta or queso fresco.

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