My girlfriend and I are past the green bean casserole stage (the one with cream of mushroom soup and canned fried onions). What else can we do?

Congratulations. (Not that the canned classic is on the endangered species list.) We tried some new green bean recipes. One braised the beans in orange juice and tossed them with spicy cashews; another submerged them in a creamy mustard sauce.

And you know what? We ditched them both, because alongside all of the other excellent Thanksgiving side dishes, we yearned for green beans that are simply green beans. Fresh, of course. (If you would like to see our alternatives, go to www.washingtonpost.com.)

Fresh Green Beans

8 servings

These bright beans are stripped down to their essence and tossed with butter. There's no loss of color, flavor or texture by cooking the beans in advance.

MAKE AHEAD: The beans may be prepared up to 1 day in advance, covered tightly and refrigerated, then reheated for about 3 minutes when ready to serve.

Adapted from "The French Chef Cookbook," by Julia Child (Knopf, 1961).

11/2 to 2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed

3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

2 tablespoons minced parsley (optional)

Have ready a large bowl of ice water.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the beans and cook, uncovered, for 5 to 6 minutes or just until tender. Drain the beans and transfer to the ice-water bath. Drain again. Set aside, or, if making in advance, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.

About 3 minutes before serving, in a large saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat, toss the beans until their moisture evaporates. Add the butter, salt and pepper to taste, stirring to combine. When the beans are heated through, add the lemon juice and parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 67 calories, 2 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 12 mg cholesterol, 3 g saturated fat, 41 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber

Recipe tested by Marcia Kramer; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com