The Underrated Bean That's Perfect For Slow-Cooking

Have you ever attempted to roast green beans low and slow, only to find a too-soft green pile of goo as a result? Green beans, while bright and crisp when fresh, can easily turn to mush when cooked using slow-roasting methods. But if you're still looking to get your green bean-like fix, not all hope is lost. Turn to the more underrated bean in the legume family: Romano beans.

Picture a Romano bean like a standard string bean that's been flattened out with a rolling pin. The exterior is still a vibrant green, but the shape is wider, similar to that of a snap pea. And while green beans wilt and soften during a slow roast, Romano beans maintain their tenderness. The flatter, supple Romano beans turn meaty instead of mushy, easily absorbing any juicy flavors you cook them in. So, if you're looking for a type of green bean that switches up your usual vegetable side dish routine and can stand to handle slow cooking, try incorporating Romano beans.

Finding and preparing the best Romano beans

Romano beans are in season during the summer and fall due to their native warm Mediterranean climate in Italy. Romano beans are also known as Italian pole beans — or fagioli corallo in Italian — because of their pole-like shape. Romano beans may be difficult to find year-round in your local grocery store, but if you can snag some at a local farmer's market in peak season, don't miss the opportunity. Just look out for snappy, tender Romano beans to enjoy them at their freshest.

Although Romano beans look similar to snap peas, there are no strings to be found here! You can trim off the stems, but the tails can remain. You'll find small bean seeds inside the pods, but there's no need to pop them out. As you go to roast your Romano beans, make sure to avoid one of the most common vegetable roasting mistakes: baking your Romano beans with other vegetables for the same amount of time. You could perfectly slow-roast your Romano beans while overcooking the other vegetables as a result. 

Ideas for incorporating Romano beans into your recipes

In Italian cooking, you can find Romano beans commonly used in minestrone, a thick soup teeming with slow-cooked veggies. But you don't have to make an Italian dish to reap the benefits of Romano beans. You can easily substitute Romano beans into other snap pea or green bean recipes. The important distinction here is to slow-cook your Romano beans to bring out the best in them — a more tender, meatier result. If you're looking for some inspiration, know that Romano beans can take on starring roles in vegan and vegetarian dishes, like in a homemade vegan spaghetti with Romano beans.

To get the most out of Romano beans, you can simply slow-cook them on their own. They're juicy and hearty for a vegetable and can easily star as the main character of your meal. As they roast in the oven, they'll gradually take on a delicate caramelization along the edges while slightly softening, intensifying the naturally sweet flavor of the beans. Next time you're looking for a perfect slow-roasting ingredient, think outside the bean box and seek out specialty Romano beans to be the heart of your next meal.