Lemon zest on grilled green beans/Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

For Friday’s weekly grill post I want to feature green beans.  These are awesome on the grill.  Strictly speaking, you don’t need a grilling basket, but they do make the work much easier.  (I offer these at OpenSky for those who follow.)  Baskets are fairly common these days and they do make all kinds of grilling of stuff that might fall through.  If you don’t have a basket, this same technique and recipe will work with asparagus as well.

I like to toss the green veg in olive oil to which I’ve added smashed or minced garlic, and put them over high direct heat, tossing or turning them every few minutes or so.  They cook in about 7-10 minutes. If you like heat, add some dried red chilli flakes. If you like seasoning that goes well with smoke, throw some whole or crushed cumin seeds in as well.  And grill away.

But in my opinion, what really transforms grilled vegetables is finishing them with lemon zest. It makes them sparkle on the tongue, lightens the char and caramelization from the high heat and smoke.

Grilled Green Beans with Garlic and Lemon Zest

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced to a paste
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, whole or crushed in a mortar and pestle (optional)
  • 1 pound green beans, stem ends picked (if you don’t have a grill pan, substitute asparagus)
  • 1 lemon for zesting
  • Salt to taste
  1. Start a fire a half hour before cooking your beans (you may be cooking other stuff on the grill, so just know that you’ll need ten minutes of medium-high to high heat for the beans—more about multiple dishes on the same grill next week).
  2. Combine olive oil and garlic in a bowl (as well as the red pepper flakes and cumin if using). Swirl the oil around with your fingers to distribute the garlic (and other seasonings).  Add the green beans and toss by hand till they’re uniformly coated.  Put them in your hot grill basket or on the hot grate and cook till they’re gorgeous and tender.
  3. Remove to a serving dish, season with salt and finish with freshly grated lemon zest (I use a Microplane, which I love).


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© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2011 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved.