Sweet Green Beans | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Sweet Green Beans

I loved their snap and distinct flavor

I have always loved steamed green beans. They were a staple of childhood meals at my house, and I loved their snap and distinct flavor, as well as the time I spent cleaning them on our back porch. I avoided them when my mom wasn’t the one dishing them up because they never looked as vibrant or tasty; at school, at least, they took on the gray hue of something that’s been in a can for too long. 

When I went to college and got my first apartment, I developed a craving for them. I steamed up a batch, and with the anticipation of something comforting, I put a helping on my plate with a little salt. But when I took a bite, something was wrong — the beans were just off. I figured I must have prepared them wrong, or maybe I’d over-steamed them. I called home and quizzed my mother about her recipe, and I learned that she had always used a secret ingredient which I had thought was part of the inherent flavor of green beans: sesame oil. Since then I’ve tried a few variations of dressings for green beans, and this is one of my favorites. The honey and mustard are a perfect complement to the earthiness of the beans. 


  • ½ pound green beans
  • 1 tbsp. good-quality whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp. favorite honey (I like local producer BEEBOY honey)
  • salt, to taste


Rinse green beans in cool water, and clean them by snapping off the ends. In a saucepan, steam green beans over high heat until bright green and just done. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Shock the beans in the ice bath, so they stop cooking and maintain their vibrant color. (Trust me, this step, while seemingly trivial, changes the whole game.) Drain beans and toss in a large bowl with mustard and honey. Salt to taste. Taste and adjust amounts of honey, mustard and salt, if desired. Serve.