Green beans, wax beans and haricots vert (or French beans) are all members of the snap bean family. For all of them, look for fresh, brightly colored beans, with no brown spots or signs of decay at the tips. Beans should be crisp, firm and snap easily (snap bean family, remember?). Haricots vert will be a darker, duller green color than their green bean cousins and they will cook faster due to their thinner size. Beans will keep in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
To prepare, trim the stem ends of the beans. You can leave them whole or cut them into small pieces (on the diagonal if you want to get fancy). Most beans are steamed or boiled, to blanch them, then sauteed in oil or butter with garlic and herbs. Nuts, pine nuts and sesame seeds are often added. Click here for some bean recipes.