Growing up my mom made the same turkey dinner for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we all loved it. We all looked forward to the special meal she prepared, which took her most of the day. A large turkey that fed the six of us, and enough for leftovers throughout the week. There were a variety of side dishes to compliment, plenty of creamy mashed potatoes with gravy, cloverleaf biscuits, cranberry bread, cranberry sauce, and, my favorite, green bean casserole with the crispy fried onions on top. My mouth is watering just reminiscing about it.
When I became an adult and married, my husband’s family did not share the same traditions I grew up with and green bean casserole was not always a staple at the holiday dinner. While I have missed this tasty holiday treat over the years, this has actually worked to my benefit in the long run. Let’s just say I am counting my calories more now than I did back when I was younger. I am looking for ways to enjoy the foods that are good for me without all the added calories and fat. Which leads me to the best fresh green beans I’ve ever tasted.
Years ago when my kids were in their late teens we took my husband out for a Father’s Day dinner to an Italian restaurant that served their food family style. This restaurant happened to be over an hour’s drive away, so it was a great family adventure. We took our time reviewing the menu then all collaborated and ordered a few main dishes we could share along with some side dishes. I had a hankering for some of the green beans listed on the menu and wanted to try them but wasn’t sure who else would be willing. I knew my husband wouldn’t be game to try them since he eats very few vegetables, and when he does they certainly are not cooked. My kids are particular about their vegetables, too, but surprised me by saying they would try the beans.
To be honest, I can’t recall the main dishes we ordered that night, but the kids and I all remember those fresh green beans, so delicious and crisp! They arrived at the table on a small serving plate, piled high and as green as could be. One bite and I could tell there was fresh lemon juice, some butter, and salt. But it seemed as if there was something else I couldn’t quite figure out. We all managed to finish the beans that night. No need for a box to take home leftover beans.
Over the next several months I tried duplicating that recipe myself. I knew for sure it had the fresh lemon, butter, and salt, but what else? I tried adding a little vinegar, I recalled as a young child some of the adults in my life would drizzle vinegar over their beans. Nope, that wasn’t it. How about a touch of hot sauce? No, that wasn’t it, either. Well, we finally concluded was it was possible we could never match the wonderful experience we had that evening, dinner as a family at a new restaurant, trying different foods. It was determined the recipe we would call Bucca beans from here on out was very simple, fresh green beans, butter, fresh lemon, and kosher salt. If there is another ingredient, we never did figure it out, but enjoy this recipe we developed ourselves.
Bucca Beans Recipe
1 lb fresh green beans
1 fresh lemon
2 Tbs butter
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup water
Wash the beans and snip the ends off. I cut in half so they fit in my pot. Place beans in a pot, add enough cold water to the pot to cover the beans, add 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Cover and let sit off to the side for an hour or so.
Drain the beans add 1/2 cup water to the pot. Cook over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until the beans are to the firmness you prefer. We like our beans to be crisp. The point is to steam the beans, you will want to stir them around every few minutes so the beans at the bottom are not boiled and get too soft. You could always use a steamer if you have one.
Drain the water from the beans, keeping the beans in the pot. Add the 2 Tbs of butter tossing to coat the beans while the butter is melting. Squeeze the lemon juice onto the beans, tossing more to coat. We’ve tried using the lemon juice in a bottle with this recipe, fresh lemon is definitely the way to go.
Serve and enjoy.
While I’ve never served beans for breakfast at Inn on Lake Wissota, this is a recipe my family has enjoyed for many years now. I hope yours will, too.