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Fresh green beans are a departure from usual winter vegetables

Even though we are in the middle of winter, I could not help but indulge in a bagful of green beans at the store recently.

They were so green! I have no idea where they came from. I assume south of the border, and perfectly in season somewhere a thousand miles away.

As you well know, my brood has some distinctive likes and dislikes when it comes to food. Green beans are an easy sell. We grow them every summer, and all of my kids love them.

We usually plant green, yellow and purple beans. In mid-February, there was no color choice at the grocery store. But that was okay, because I had a big bag of green beans instead of our usual winter vegetable choice of broccoli or cauliflower.

Clay, 8, was happy to help cut off the ends of the beans for me. This involved using a knife – a passion of his.

Emma, 11, helped make a gremolata sauce for me. I knew she would like it. She has always been a good eater and continues to add new passions to her palate.

Molly, 10, on the other hand, would never go for this strong-flavored sauce. That was OK, I was willing to leave a small batch unsauced. But Molly always is eager to help in the kitchen, even if she has no interest in eating what she is cooking.

As Emma helped zest, chop and grate, Molly combined the ingredients and mixed them up. I blanched the green beans, then we tossed them with the gremolata, making sure they were well seasoned with salt and just a little pepper.

This is a great make-ahead dish. We served the beans with a roasted pork loin and potato gratin. Even though green beans are nowhere near in season, it made a delicious winter dinner.

Emma ate plenty of this side dish, as did I. Molly and Clay ate the whole bowl of plain green beans. Someday they will ask to try the more adventuresome food choices on the table. I just know they will.

mpoitras@discoveryspeed.com. Margery Reed Poitras is a former professional chef who now cooks for her kids and occasionally for the more mature palate.