1) Fill a large saucepan with water, and bring to a boil. Add a handful of salt. Meanwhile, trim the ends off french beans, discarding any that are discoloured or damaged. Add to the boiling water, and blanch for 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp tender. Drain the french beans. Immediately submerge in ice water to chill and to retain their bright colour.
2) Alternatively, place the french beans in a colander. Place the colander on top of boiling potatoes to steam until tender, occasionally turning to cook evenly, about 3 to 4 minutes.