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All in a Name–Wax Beans

by Jane Worthington-Roth

Vegetables' names might influence whether we like to eat them, or if we'd even give them a try. Take "sweet corn" - the name implies that the vegetable will be sweet and delicious. Now consider the "wax bean" - this poor vegetable's name gives the impression that it would be as palatable as a birthday candle! Nonetheless I love wax beans and green beans as well. They are essentially the same vegetable, but wax beans have been bred to have no chlorophyll, the pigment that gives green beans their color.

For some recipes, the yellow wax beans are a better choice, especially if they will be cooked for a long time such as in a stew, as the green beans might lose their bright color and appear a bit drab. But generally they are perfectly interchangeable. My recipe below features yellow wax beans and tastes just as delicious served warm or at room temperature, making it a perfect accompaniment for a summer meal with grilled meat. The wax beans look beautiful in the red tomato-paprika based sauce.

Wax Beans with Tomato and Paprika

3 tablespoons cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound yellow wax beans, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
Scant 1 cup water
2 teaspoons each fresh mint leaves and parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pay until shimmering. Sauté the onion until translucent, but not browned. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional two minutes.

Add the tomato paste, paprika and water and stir to combine. Add the wax beans, making sure they are evenly submerged. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and gently simmer until the beans are tender but not mushy, about 5–8 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the mint and parsley then add salt and pepper to taste.