Roasted Romano Beans & Onions

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Summer seems to be going out with a bang—we experienced an impressive heat wave a week or two ago, so much so that we had heat advisory warnings and texts from PG&E for a week straight since the power grids were so strained. Phoebe and I took advantage of the heat in the best way we know how, spending most days at the beach. We splashed around in the path of the waves as they hissed past on their way up the beach; foam hitting first, then the sandy tumult finally followed by clear water. Phoebe was delighted with each cold rush, gasping and shrieking and running in a circle as I held tightly to her little hand. I even managed to jump in myself, having persuaded her to sit on our towel quite a ways from the water. I looked back every few seconds, waving, and hurriedly dunked my head in the cold water, feeling much more energized to face the heat as I walked back out with the racing waves.

We had our first Fall rain yesterday, but the week ahead is supposed to be warm. Maybe there’s time for one more beach day before we make the full transition into cozy sweaters and rain boots. We plan to host a long overdue dinner with friends in the backyard this weekend; we’ll grill skirt steak, make a giant, crunchy greens salad, and use up all the cherry tomatoes that have yet to fall off the vine. I might even make a fruity pavlova. In other words, we’ll celebrate summer’s last hurrah before the frigid evenings and early sunsets render backyard dinners unenjoyable (unless a fire pit is involved). If you, too, have a warm weekend coming up, I encourage you to make something summery—a fresh tomato salad, tacos with corn salsa, or a plate of these tender giant beans—to celebrate that last bit of those bright summer flavors. After all, we’ll miss them in a few months!

This is quite late in the season for Romano beans—they’re most prevalent in July and early August in Northern California—but if you’re lucky enough to still have them at your market, please give these wide beans a shot (you can, of course, use green beans instead, I just prefer Romano beans cooked this way). Romano beans are basically bigger, more tender green beans that can pretty much go with anything. Roasting them quickly in a really hot oven with a little salt is so easy, and the result is super satisfying. The breadcrumbs step is optional, but it does lend a lovely crunch to the whole dish.

Roasted Romano Beans & Onions

Serves 4

for the breadcrumbs (optional):
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 lbs Romano beans, rinsed
1 bunch tiny onions or 1 large red onion (ideally fresh, with the stem)
olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Make the breadcrumbs (optional): heat 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, stir in the grated or minced garlic clove, let cook for about 20 seconds until the garlic smells super fragrant, then add 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs and stir. Keep stirring often until the breadcrumbs are nicely browned and toasty, about 3 minutes or so. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and set aside to cool. (This makes double what you’ll likely need for the beans, but save the rest in a covered container in the fridge for a week or so—top a salad or veggie with it, or sprinkle on top of a pasta dish.)

Break off the stems of the Romano beans and scatter them across a large baking sheet. If using tiny onions: cut the stems and roots off, then slice in half and toss among the beans. If using a large onion, cut off the stem and root ends and peel the outer layer if it’s grungey. Slice it in half and then into 1/2 inch thick wedges. Toss the onions and beans with a few good glugs of olive oil (about 2-3 tbsp). Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp kosher salt and a few cracks of black pepper.

Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. If the beans are not blistered and browned in places, flip everything and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Top with a hefty sprinkling of breadcrumbs.

Enjoy hot!

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