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Green beans, onions, garlic, and tomatoes being sauteed in a skillet with a wooden spoon. Next to this is two lemon halves and bowls of salt, black pepper and pine nuts.

Sautéed green beans are a healthy, easy-to-prepare side dish that fits almost any diet and tastes delicious for days. Learn how to cook green beans on the stovetop with this simple recipe!

An overhead photo of sautéed green beans on a serving plate with a spoon.  Around it is half a lemon, a tea towel, parsley and bowls of salt, black pepper and pine nuts.
Photo credit: Katherine Irwin

I often roast green beans or braise them in Greek-style tomato sauce (called Fasolakia). But when I want a simple side dish that takes little effort, is super satisfying, and doesn't require turning on the oven, sautéed green beans come in handy every time!

Green beans are on the heartier side as far as green vegetables go. Unlike sautéing a more delicate vegetable like asparagus, they need a little extra love but they're worth it.

They do best with a quick sear to soften the tough exterior, then a slow cook to load them with Mediterranean seasonings. That means plenty of garlic, flavorful spices, toasty, buttery pine nuts, and lots of lemon and fresh herbs to finish.

The green beans become perfectly tender, but far from mushy, with a perfect balance of savory, fresh, comforting, and bright flavor. This simple legume will taste delicious for up to 3 days in your refrigerator. Prepare a large quantity to have a vegetable rich in vitamins and fiber ready!

Summary
  1. Sautéed Green Bean Ingredients and Substitutions
  2. Spotlight on ingredients
  3. How to Saute Green Beans
  4. What to serve with sautéed green beans
  5. Other recipes with green beans
  6. Sautéed green beans recipe
Ingredients for sauteed green beans including green beans, olive oil, onion, salt, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, paprika, black pepper, pine nuts, lemon and parsley.Ingredients for sauteed green beans including green beans, olive oil, onion, salt, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, paprika, black pepper, pine nuts, lemon and parsley.

Sautéed Green Bean Ingredients and Substitutions

You could keep things simple by making this recipe with just green beans, olive oil, and salt, but I like to liven it up a bit with some of my favorite flavorings. You will need:

  • Oil: You'll be cooking the green beans over high heat, so use a high-quality extra virgin olive oil (more on that later).
  • Onion AND garlic add their famous sweet and savory punch. I like the sweetness of the yellow onion here, but white onion or shallots would work in its place.
  • Green beans: I wrote this recipe for standard green beans, but “fancier” varieties like green beans or French green beans are also great. They cook a little faster, so be sure to check them after 10-15 minutes.
  • Tomatoes add a bright, summery freshness.
  • Seasoning: coriander gives an earthy aromatic quality. Paprika and black earth pepper add very mild heat for depth. Salt enhances the flavor.
    • I use Mediterranean coriander and Spanish sweet paprika our spice shop. You can use anything labeled “paprika” or smoked paprika for a smoked element, just keep in mind that the smoked paprika will be strong.
  • Fresh lemon juice enhances the savory flavor, adding a good touch of acidity for balance.
  • Parsley adds freshness, but any tender green herb works in its place, such as cilantro, mint or dill. I wouldn't replace it with dried herbs because they would be too dominant.
  • pine nuts add a buttery, tender crunch, but walnuts or slivered almonds would also work.
Every day package of olive oil from the Mediterranean food shop.Every day package of olive oil from the Mediterranean food shop.
Daily pack of olive oil from The Mediterranean Dish Shop

Spotlight on ingredients

One of my most frequently asked questions is whether cooking with olive oil over high heat is healthy. My Mediterranean bones have always screamed YES, but now I have studies, like Changes in the chemical compositions of olive oil at different heating temperatures similar to home cooking published in the Journal of Food Chemistry and Nutrition, to support me!

The smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is within the range required for most cooking methods, including sautéing. Its antioxidant properties also act as a stabilizer, making it more resistant to oxidation at higher temperatures than seed oils such as sunflower. Plus, it's unmatched in terms of flavor. Just make sure you use a high quality oil and extra virgin is a must.

A closeup of sautéed green beans.A closeup of sautéed green beans.

How to Saute Green Beans

The benefit of sauteing green beans is that you get the best of both worlds: the tender, snappy texture of blanching them but the developed flavor of roasting them. And there's no need to turn on the oven! Here are the steps:

  • Prepare the ingredients. Wash and dry 2 pounds of green beans, then trim and cut them in half on the diagonal. Chop 1 yellow onion. Chop 3 cloves of garlic. Dice 2 large tomatoes.
  • Fry the onions. Coat a large skillet with a thin layer of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) and place over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions and a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring regularly, until fragrant and golden, about 5 minutes. Stir-fried chopped onions with a wooden spoon.  Next to it is a kitchen towel, half a lemon and bowls of salt, black pepper and pine nuts.Stir-fried chopped onions with a wooden spoon.  Next to it is a kitchen towel, half a lemon and bowls of salt, black pepper and pine nuts.
  • Fry the green beans. Add the green beans and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring regularly until they start to soften.Stir-fried green beans and chopped onions in a pan with a wooden spoon.  Next to it is a kitchen towel, half a lemon and bowls of salt, black pepper and pine nuts.Stir-fried green beans and chopped onions in a pan with a wooden spoon.  Next to it is a kitchen towel, half a lemon and bowls of salt, black pepper and pine nuts.
  • Add flavorings. Add the garlic, tomatoes and ¼ cup water. Season with 1 teaspoon ground coriander, ½ teaspoon paprika, and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Green beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes and spices sautéed in a pan with a wooden spoon.  Next to it is a tea towel, two lemon halves and bowls of salt, black pepper and pine nuts.Green beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes and spices sautéed in a pan with a wooden spoon.  Next to it is a tea towel, two lemon halves and bowls of salt, black pepper and pine nuts.
  • Bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for about 25 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally, until the green beans and tomatoes have softened, released their liquid and created a delicious sauce in the pan. Green beans, onions, garlic and tomatoes sauteed in a pan with a wooden spoon.  Next to it are two lemon halves and bowls of salt, black pepper and pine nuts.Green beans, onions, garlic and tomatoes sauteed in a pan with a wooden spoon.  Next to it are two lemon halves and bowls of salt, black pepper and pine nuts.
  • In the meantime, toast the pine nuts (if using). In a small skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil (about 1 teaspoon). Once the oil starts to shimmer, add 3 tablespoons of pine nuts and stir with a wooden spoon until lightly browned (watch carefully and don't leave the pine nuts unattended as they will burn). Transfer to a plate and set aside. The pine nuts are toasted in a pan with a wooden spoon.  Next to it is a tea towel, two lemon halves and bowls of salt, black pepper and pine nuts.The pine nuts are toasted in a pan with a wooden spoon.  Next to it is a tea towel, two lemon halves and bowls of salt, black pepper and pine nuts.
  • Prepare your herbs. Finely chop enough parsley leaves and tender stems to make ¼ cup. Juice 1 lemon.
  • Finish and serve. Remove the green beans from the heat and transfer them to a serving plate, drizzling any pan juices over them. Finish with lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley and pine nuts (if using).
A close up shot from above of a portion of sautéed green beans on a plate with a fork.  Next to it is a serving plate with the rest of the green beans and a bowl of black pepper.A close up shot from above of a portion of sautéed green beans on a plate with a fork.  Next to it is a serving plate with the rest of the green beans and a bowl of black pepper.

What to serve with sautéed green beans

Sauteed green beans can wear many hats. For me they can do double duty as a salad, so feel free to serve them with your favorite protein and call it a day.

A grain of some kind, such as spelt or basmati rice, will further round out the meal. They also keep well for days, so repurpose leftovers for breakfast with a fried egg, gently reheating the beans until just warm.

Other recipes with green beans

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  • Fry the onions. Coat a large skillet with a thin layer of olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) and place over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onions and a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring regularly, until fragrant and golden, about 5 minutes.

  • Fry the green beans. Add the green beans and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring regularly until they start to soften.

  • Add flavorings. Add the garlic, tomatoes and water. Season with coriander, paprika and a large pinch of salt and pepper.

  • Bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for about 25 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally, until the green beans and tomatoes have softened, released their liquid and created a delicious sauce in the pan.

  • In the meantime, toast the pine nuts (if using). In a small skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil (about 1 teaspoon). When the oil begins to shimmer, add the pine nuts and stir with a wooden spoon until they turn a light golden color (watch carefully and don't leave the pine nuts unattended as they will burn). Transfer to a plate and set aside.

  • Finish and serve. Remove the green beans from the heat and transfer them to a serving plate, drizzling any pan juices over them. Finish with lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley and pine nuts (if using).

  • Buy this recipe: Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oil, paprikaAND coriander used in this recipe.
  • Store green beans, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat gently until just heated through.

Calories: 105.1kcalCarbohydrates: 17.1GProtein: 4.4GFat: 4GSaturated fats: 0.4GPolyunsaturated fats: 2GMonounsaturated fat: 1GSodium: 14.7mgPotassium: 525.5mgFiber: 5.9GSugar: 7.5GVitamin A: 1683.4UIC vitamin: 38.9mgSoccer: 78.9mgIron: 2.4mg

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