Fagiolini alla panna (Creamed Green Beans)

When most people (myself included) think of Italian style green beans, fagiolini in umido (green beans in tomato sauce) is likely to come to mind or perhaps fagiolini all’agro, a simple green bean salad. Here is a less well known but perfectly delicious dish from Lombardia that I recent came across while  perusing a little cookbook called La cucina lombarda by Alessandro Molinari Pradelli: green beans simmered in cream. I can almost guarantee that once you try this, it will become a regular part of your repertoire!

Ingredients (for 4-6 servings)

1 kg (2 lbs.) green beans
A shallot, fine chopped
50g (3 Tbs) butter (or more if you’re feeling indulgent)
2 dl (3/4 cup) cream (or as much as you need)
Salt and pepper
A handful of parsley, finely chopped


Trim off the ends of your green beans, then plunge them into a big pot of well-salted boiling water. Cook them until they are quite al dente, remembering that they will cook some more later. This should take no more than 5 minutes or so, depending on the size and quality of the beans.

While the green beans are boiling away, gently sweat your chopped shallot in the butter in an ample skillet or sauté pan until soft but not browned.

Transfer the green beans from the boiling water right into the skillet and mix them well with the butter and shallot soffritto. [NB: If you like, you can 'refresh' the green beans in cold water before adding them to the skillet, which will help them retain their color, but being a bit lazy I often skip this step.] Raise the flame just a bit and let the green beans braise for a few minutes, stirring frequently, so they can absorb the flavors of the soffritto.

Now add your cream, enough to just about cover the beans. Season with salt, pepper and nice scrape of nutmeg. Raise the flame a bit more so that the cream bubbles fairly vigorously. Continue stirring from time to time, and simmer until the cream has thickened into a saucy consistency. Taste and adjust for seasoning if need be.

Mix in the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

NOTES: The great thing about this dish, as for any braised vegetable dish, is that you can use green beans that may have been around for a while without much trouble. That is, in fact, what I did this time and I can tell you the results were more than satisfactory. 

This makes for a fine contorno for grilled meats, in particular. I would not serve it, on the other hand, with a braised meat dish. And I actually had it as a vegetarian lunch one day, with a nice chunk of crusty bread.

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17 Responses to “Fagiolini alla panna (Creamed Green Beans)”

  1. 3 January 2011 at 17:34 #

    Thanks, guys, for all your great comments!

    @Drick: I bet lima beans are great with cream—hard not to like anything made with cream, after all…

    @Bob and Robin: Thanks for the link—checked out your blog. Looks great!

  2. 1 January 2011 at 21:54 #

    Well yea Frank, what's not to like?

    Wishing you a happy healthy and delicious 2011!

  3. 1 January 2011 at 12:57 #

    Thank you for passing from my blog. I wish you all the best for the New Year. Your fagiolini sound delicious.

  4. 31 December 2010 at 00:16 #

    We made these green beans tonight and they are fantastic. We will definitely make these again. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. 30 December 2010 at 17:51 #

    hey, this is very similar to how we like our baby green lima beans… folks look at me crazy when I say I'm cooking baby limas in cream but they they sure do love 'em….

  6. 30 December 2010 at 15:19 #

    This recipe looks wonderful and I have added it to our blog, Boise Foodie Guild, at http://boisefoodieguild.blogspot.com. I have also link your blog. Thanks for sharing this and all of the recipes! Cheers.

  7. 30 December 2010 at 13:30 #

    These are some great tasting and wonderful looking green beans! Love the heavy cream in them too!

    Bon appetit and Happy New Year!


  8. 30 December 2010 at 11:02 #

    You're right about this not being the typical green bean dish, but it sure looks like it should be in my repertoire.

  9. 29 December 2010 at 22:03 #

    Your green beans sound wonderful! So much better than any green bean preparations I have seen recently ;)!

  10. 29 December 2010 at 18:02 #

    That sounds great!

  11. 29 December 2010 at 17:32 #

    Yum – my fav veggie with cream, what could be better! Sounds like a great side dish for our New Year's celebration!

  12. 29 December 2010 at 16:30 #

    If only things this good were low fat and low cal :-(

  13. 29 December 2010 at 15:28 #

    How could these be anything but wonderful????

  14. 29 December 2010 at 15:25 #

    I must admit that this is my first exposure to this! I am saddened that I have missed this my whole life!

  15. 29 December 2010 at 14:41 #

    Green beans cooked in cream – wow, that is delicious!

  16. 29 December 2010 at 12:26 #

    Ciao! These sound great!

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