Tag Archives: green beans

Pistou!!

cranberry beans

I’d bought some fresh cranberry beans at the farmers’ market, which were very tasty and tender

IT’S THAT TRANSITION TIME — warm and summery one day, cool and rainy the next. During the cool rainy (and windy) days last week, I wished I had some soup to eat. . . but I didn’t feel like making my usual fall and winter soups. I didn’t want to rush the season.

Then I saw this article and recipe in the New York Times for soupe au pistou, the Southern French vegetable soup flavored with basil (usually a basil pesto without the pine nuts).

stringbeans, potatoesThe lovely thing about this particular recipe by David Tanis is that it uses all those vegetables that are in season right now, in September. However, it’s also very adaptable, and there are countless variations. For example, in a second batch I made, I cooked dried, soaked white beans instead of the cranberry beans. (Yes, I imagine you could substitute canned beans). And I couldn’t find romano beans, so I just used more regular green beans.

Another adjustment I made to the recipe was to skip the separate step of blanching the vegetables, and just cook them right in the pot (as one reader suggested), to my liking. I kept them bright and slightly crunchy for the first serving; the next day, when I reheated the soup, the vegetables were less bright but more tender. Both variations were good.

Some people use rice or macaroni instead of potatoes, or insist that tomatoes are essential if you want to call it soupe au pistou  (Here, for example, is a completely different recipe).

I like the potatoes, though, and I think the soupe is fine with or without the tomatoes. Since I’ve never had an traditional soupe au pistou, I can’t judge its authenticity except to say I like this soup, whatever you call it.

The dollop of basil pesto (without nuts, but if you have some usual pesto on hand, no one will object) adds a distinctive seasoning, but this soup is flavorful even without it (maybe then you should call it something else).

pistouReally, this soupe au pistou is so good that it led me right back into the soup-making season–without regrets.

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Filed under fall, Praise for other cooks, soup, vegetables

Salads, salads, salads

Lately, it’s salads for lunch and, often as not,  more salads for supper.

Contrast is important in a salad: textures, tastes–and colors.

The dark pinks and magentas of red onion, beets, purple cauliflower or red cabbage look stunning against vivid greens.  The salad above was a basic green salad with different types of very fresh lettuce (thank you, Martha) and some marinated red onions, which are simply made by cutting the onion in half, slicing thinly, tossing on some salt and a few tablespoons of red wine vinegar and some peppermint, dried or fresh (minced). Let the onions marinate for an hour before serving.

Here’s some more salads I’ve been enjoying lately:

Multi-colored couscous, yellow peppers, cucumber, garbanzos, green onion, feta, kalamata olives, mint

I dress most of the salads in my basic olive oil-lemon juice-salt mixture, but sometimes I use vinegar or lime juice in place of the lemon juice.

Beets in balsamic vinegar with feta, walnuts, cilantro

Arugula with fresh figs, walnuts, Parmeggiano shavings

Kale salad with corn fritters

Check out the corn fritters on Alexandra’s wonderful cooking blog. They’re delicious. (I made a couple changes — used low fat Greek-style yogurt instead of full fat and green onions in place of a shallot.)

Bean salad: cannellini beans, green and yellow string beans

Potato salad with tuna in olive oil, green beans, red onions, lemon zest

Spinach salad with feta cheese, toasted walnuts, kalamata olives. And bread.

Green beans with red onions, celery and toasted walnuts

The salad above was inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, with some changes. The almonds sounded great, but Steve is allergic to them, so it was toasted walnuts, again — and my version of the red onion.

Watermelon salad with feta cheese, fresh mint and lime

Sometimes the salad doesn't even get mixed up in the bowl....

A favorite farmers' market vendor

I get most of my vegetables from the farmers’ market,  farm stands or generous friends….

My latest fascination is purple cauliflower

I made a quick pickled cauliflower by slicing thinly and rubbing the pieces with salt -- and the color was terrific

I served it alongside more of those corn fritters and Castelvetrano olives. A bit of cheese and bread, of course.

A little kitchen chemistry: I discovered that if you squeeze lemon juice on cooked purple cauliflower it turns from lavender to a vivid magenta color….

Confetti salad: bulgur, purple cauliflower, carrots, green beans, peas, green onions, basil--or was it cilantro?

That was the inspiration for a new salad…. “What’s this called?” Steve asked. I’ve heard the name Confetti Salad applied to other colorful concoctions, so I’m sure this will fit in the confetti category.

I'm already thinking about the variations I'll make....

What’s your favorite salad these days?

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Filed under Praise for other cooks, salad, summer, Uncategorized, vegetables

Keeping it simple

It’s hot here — finally. I know the rest of the country has been baking, but it’s taken till mid-August for it to feel like summer around here. It’s not the best time to be turning on the oven, and we don’t own a grill, so besides making the usual bulgur salads, I’m cooking a little less and keeping things simple.

Who says you can’t have a meal of mostly vegetables along with a good slice of bread? (I love carbs). Corn on the cob, new potatoes, fresh string beans with a little lemon zest….to me, that’s a great summer supper.

This was my idea of a buffet lunch: crackers and cheese, marinated artichokes and olives, melon and blackberries, and a little salad of green beans and garbanzo beans with red pepper and lemon and olive oil dressing.

About the most complicated (i.e. not very) dish I made recently was a lemon-basil recipe that I adapted from Nigel Slater.

I love what Slater writes about lemons:

“Few sights lift the spirits like a crate of lemons with their glossy leaves intact. Lemons are as much a part of the kitchen as pepper and salt.”

I didn’t have linguine so I made it with fettucine in the photo above. Delicious, but the linguine is even better at soaking up the sauce — I tried it later. I’m still adjusting the recipe proportions, so if you try it and think it needs a little more or less of something, please let me know.

Lemon and Basil Linguine (serves 2)

  • 1/2 pound of linguine
  • grated zest and juice of one large lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmeggiano or Pecorino cheese
  • handful of basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • salt and pepper

Bring a big pot of salted water to the boil and cook the linguine until done (7 or 8 minutes).

Meanwhile, put the lemon juice, olive oil and zest in a warm bowl and whisk till emulsified; then add the torn basil and the cheese and whisk again. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the linguine, and toss together with the sauce until each strand is coated evenly with the sauce. Serve immediately.

I made this version without the cheese, and added some sauteed chicken pieces and cherry tomatoes

Pasta cooks quickly so it’s a good choice for a summer evening, and this is also a nice way to use fresh basil especially when those fresh tomatoes are in short supply….

One could finish such a supper with the best summer dessert of all: fresh fruit (with or without vanilla ice cream).

Bowl with Peaches and Plums, Giovanna Garzoni (1600-1670)

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Filed under fruit, summer, supper time, Uncategorized, vegetables

Canned goods: Hell, yeah

Aviva's guide booklet to preserving food

Aviva's guide booklet to preserving food

You’ve got to love this bold title for a pamphlet on canning and pickling, etc.

canning book

I think it’s charming, witty, and informative. But of course, I’m a little biased since it’s written by my daughter, Aviva.

Aviva makes Dilly Beans

Aviva came over one day and showed me how to make pickled green beans with dill, i.e. Dilly Beans.

freezer

I used to can a lot back in the old Earth Mother days, but now I’m lazier and just pack my freezer full of berries and other fruit, even jams that I don’t water-process.

The Dilly Beans are ready for the winter

The Dilly Beans are ready for the winter

Still, it’s nice to have some canned goods on the shelf in case the electricity goes out…..and they look good.

Here’s what Aviva writes about Hot Water Bath Canning:

This method is good for all acid foods. This means most fruits, pickles and jams. Other foods need to be heated to a higher temp. to kill all the bacteria in em, hotter than your stovetop will get.

To prepare your foods for canning, wash it well and remove bad spots. If you need to remove skins from tomatoes, peaches, garlic, etc., dip in boiling water for one minute. You can either can your food fresh or cooked a little bit. All food must be a solid mass in the jar–as little room for air as possible–that’s why we add liquid to a lot of the food: hot water, sugar syrup or a vinegar brine.

First, get yer big pot of water boiling. Use the biggest pot you have (wider is better than tall) If you can, get a canning rack to put in your pot & keep the jars from rattling together & breaking. Put a lid on the pot and turn the stove on high.

Wash & sterilize the jars. Then heat them up so they don’t go into shock when they’re in hot water. Do this by pouring hot water in them or put hot jam or liquid (food). Simultaneously sterilize the lids by putting them in a small pot of boiling water. Once you have your food in a jar, fill the hot liquid up to 1/4″ below the top of the jar–making sure all the food is covered. Then wipe off the rim of the jar with a damp towel and put the sterilized lid on. Screw the jar ring on tight and place in the pot of water. When the water is at a steady boil, begin timing. Process for an appropriate amount of minutes and then remove from pot with tongs and place on a towel for 12 undisturbed hours.

I’ll add that the lid should sort of pop inward, creating a vacuum. Also, you can buy canning jars, rings and sealable lids in most any grocery (you can often find jars at rummage sales, and just buy new lids and rings). And Aviva and I found a nifty way of storing the rings: you just thread them onto a length of string (ribbon or whatnot) and hang from a nail or peg.

Okay, now that we got all that out of the way, here’s a recipe for Dilly Beans:

DILLY BEANS

2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
4 cloves garlic, peeled
8 sprigs fresh dill weed

4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups white vinegar

2 1/2 cups water

1. Cut green beans to fit inside pint canning jars. Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil, and have ready a large bowl of ice water nearby.

2. Blanch the green beans to help them keep their color, by cooking them in the boiling water for one minute. Plunge beans in ice water to cool; then drain

3. Pack the beans into four hot, sterilized pint jars. Place 1 clove garlic and 2 sprigs dill weed in each jar, against the glass. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to each jar.

4. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring vinegar and water to a boil. Pour over beans until it reaches ¼” below the top of the jar.

5. Seal the jars with lids and rings and process for 10 minutes in a large pot of boiling water, making sure that the water covers the jars completely.

Blackbird Pie, print on back of “Canned goods, hell yeah”
Print on back of "Canned goods, hell yeah"

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Filed under fall, fruit, Praise for other cooks, summer, Uncategorized, vegetables