Black Olive String Beans

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Photo by Keri White

This simple dish was a highlight of dinner recently — and that’s quite a feat considering it shared the table with grilled halibut.

I had a bag of string beans that were slightly past their prime, so a raw salad was out of the question, but wasting them was not in my repertoire. Steaming them seemed boring, but I didn’t want anything too busy or heavy. Olives suggested themselves and the rest is history.

Steaming the beans first accelerates the whole cooking process and also eliminates the need for a lot of oil — you can certainly sauté them in oil to cook them instead, but a drizzle in the pan with the olives offered a lighter, quicker version. If you don’t have this precise type of olives, use what you have; if they are large, chop them coarsely and, of course, remove the pits.


We served this warm, but it would be fine at room temperature or chilled as a salad.

Black Olive String Beans

Serves 4

4 cups string beans, stems removed

4 tablespoons lightly salted water

½ cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped if large

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat the beans in the salted water in a skillet with a lid. Bring the water to a boil, cover and cook about 3 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain.
  2. Heat the oil and olives in the skillet and sauté briefly. Return the beans to the skillet and stir to coat with the olives.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot, at room temperature or chilled.

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