Fagiolino is a diminutive of fagiolo (bean) and it is most often used in the plural, fagiolini. I have always called fagiolini green beans here, but a recent post by Lisa of Champaign Taste featuring the purple and yellow varieties, besides the green one, made me decide to consult the dictionary. As a result, from now on I will try and call them snap beans, a term previously unknown to me.
I have always loved fagiolini, even as a vegetable-averse child and teenager. The day of the first written test at the end of high school, after six hours spent writing an essay, I went home exhausted and found a bowl of freshly-boiled green beans. I cut them into bite-size pieces, added a splash of vinegar and a thread of olive oil, and ate the whole bowl. After I finished, my somewhat dismayed mother commented: "Erano un chilo di fagiolini" (that was more than two pounds of snap beans).
I like my fagiolini boiled until they are on the soft side, but I am aware that most people like them on the crunchy side. Also, I sometimes use fresh lemon juice rather than vinegar as seasoning for my fagiolini.
As a child, the task of snapping off the top and tail of fagiolini before my mother boiled them fell upon me. In the process, the string along the seams can be pulled away, in case it is tough. The string nowadays is rarely a problem, because growers have selected beans without the undesirable trait that gave them one of their names (string beans).
In Veneto (the region around Venice), fagiolini are called tegoline, a sweet-sounding word I just love. In Milan, on the other hand, fagiolini are called cornetti, which was utterly confusing to me the first time I heard it, since in my home town cornetti are croissants.
I have planted a few seeds of bush beans in my garden. Unlike pole beans, bush beans do not need to climb over a support. I am hoping some of the baby fagiolini of the photo will grow enough to be harvested and cooked to taste.
This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, a food blogging event started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, hosted this week by Melissa from Cooking Diva. WHB is rapidly approaching its second birthday: congratulations Kalyn! Here's the roundup of WHB #95.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the fagiolino audio file [mp3].
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