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Sweet & Savory Garden Beans

Photo: Illinois Farmers Market Association

Dale Hazlewood, vice president of the Illinois Farmers Market Association, says, “Green beans, string beans, wax beans, snap beans and pole beans are all essentially the same thing. Each has its own unique qualities, mainly in color, shape, texture and flavor, but are more or less interchangeable in recipes. Some beans may take a little longer to cook and have more chew, but as long as you keep that in mind, you can mix and match and enjoy the diverse varieties available at your local farmers’ market, which will likely have varieties you won’t see at the grocery.”

Yields: 6 to 8 servings

1 lb fresh garden beans (wax, green, string, snap or pole), trimmed

4 pieces thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1-in pieces (optional)

1 sweet onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with freshly chopped parsley

Place the beans in a steamer basket set over a large saucepan of boiling water.

Steam until bright and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

Plunge beans into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well, and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove bacon and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings.

Sauté green onions and garlic in skillet in reserved drippings until lightly browned.

Add the vinegar and sugar; stir to dissolve the sugar.

Add in beans and bacon and sauté until thoroughly heated.

Season with salt and pepper and serve warm garnished with fresh parsley.

The Illinois Farmers Market Association (ILFMA) supports local food and food systems by giving Illinois farmers’ markets and producers access to resources, education and connections in order to grow healthier and economically vibrant communities. For more information, visit