Green Beans Archive

Monday, November 18, 2013

green bean casserole with crispy onions

green bean casserole with crispy onions

One of the best food books I read last year but rudely never got around to telling you about (in my defense, this time last year was a little nuts) was a 135-page, photo-free and straightforward guide called Thanksgiving: How To Cook It Well by the New York Times former restaurant critic and sometimes newsroom editor Sam Sifton. And although I realize there is barely a page on the internet or of printed matter near you right now not currently angling to be the one that gets to walk you through the biggest home cooking holiday of the year next week, I like this one more. Maybe it’s because one of the earliest lines in the book is “You can go your whole life and then wake up one morning and look in the refrigerator at this animal carcass the size of a toddler and think: I have to cook that today. There is no need to worry. Thanksgiving does not have to be a drag,” and continues in that empathetic but not remotely patronizing tone for the remainder of the book, cheering you on through turkey purchases and homemade stock, classic sides and newer ones worthy of consideration, game plans and even tidbits on seating, such as whether it’s okay to separately seat the Republican, Marxist and Free Spirit factions of your extended family (in short: yes, absolutely yes).

halved and thinly sliced onion
onions tossed with flour, crumbs and seasoning

But it’s more likely because the book is compact, something you could drop in your bag and read later on the subway and be transported away from the crowds and airlessness to a glowy evening late in every November when you can shed all the crutches usually required to get through the day (shortcuts, irony, rushing, a mega-latte in a to-go cup, permanently adhered to your hand), set a table (any plywood over milk crates will do), forgo the appetizers (Sifton is adamantly anti-salad or anything else on Thanksgiving that will take up valuable stomach space better saved for foods draped with butter, cream, maple syrup and bacon*) and reminisce about that silly time you spent half the day making an gourmet sous-vide vegetable confit when all anyone really wants is the casserole they’ve always secretly loved and only get to revisit once a year.

cook a handful at a time, spread out

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

green bean salad with fried almonds

green bean salad

I’m pretty sure I had a normal relationship to all things stringy and green when I started this site, but if my archives are any indication, at some point in 2008, something shifted and I became a green bean fiend. It might have even been May of that year, a month that be began with a simple summery salad but by month’s end, I was forcing Alex to endure takeout from a medicore French restaurant up to twice a week, just so I could have their side dish of skinny green beans with a pat of butter, some shallots and tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon juice. (When he cut me off, I simply went into the kitchen and attempted them myself.) I began remembering which restaurants cooked green beans perfectly each time, like the one on 7th Avenue that served them with roast chicken, buried in jus under a pile mashed potatoes and I literally ate them before the salty, crispy skin. I began judging places harshly if my beans flapped or flopped on a plate. I could speak unhealthily at length about various cooking times and what texture they’d leave the beans.

haricot verts
trimmed and tailed

Little has changed since May of 2008, well, except now a certain 12-toothed toddler had joined me in my green bean enthusiasm. We cook a pound at least once a week and eat them with nothing but a sprinkle of sea salt on top. And at least once a week I force us to order takeout from a restaurant just because they make a great green bean salad. And last week, we were able to sneak out to a new pasta restaurant in our neighborhood and look, the pasta was great, but this is what I really remember: green beans, lightly pickled red onions, thinly shaved fennel, slivers of celery and almonds, so well toasted their insides were the color of coffee.

red onion

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

arugula, potato and green bean salad

arugula potato and green bean salad with walnuts

I wasn’t kidding last week when I said that I have staged an intervention with myself and am trying my hardest to cook more things at home that can be even loosely construed as dinner. I mean, somehow the farmers markets are bursting with beans and greens and peppers and potatoes and peaches and… And I ate (average) pad thai for lunch. It doesn’t even compute.

arugula

But I still only want simple food. When food is this fresh, little needs to be done to make it stand out, which is perfect as I’m exactly lazy enough right now that I barely want to fuss. I saw this recipe from Martha Stewart a few weeks ago when I was trying to dream up a potato salad that wasn’t so… weighty. Basically, I wanted my potatoes but I didn’t need them swaddled in mayo or sour cream or chopped eggs and pickles… at least not every day.

fingerling segments

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Monday, June 1, 2009

pesto potato salad with green beans

pesto potato salad

If you think my slaw affliction is bad, let me introduce you to my potato salad habit. There’s that everything-but-the-kitchen-sink version, with its pickles and onions and vinegar and mayo and mustard and celery and then hard-boiled eggs, as if there were a risk of potato salad monotony. Then there’s the stepped-up dilled version, where you start by making your own cucumber pickles the night before and then finish it with radishes. It’s heaven in a Central European bowl. Oh, and now there’s this pesto too, just perfect for the mayo-phobic out there and look, it has green beans! It must be healthy.

green beans, trimmed and tailed
chunked yellow potatoes

This recipe comes courtesy of my green tomato and okra-frying friend Ang, who says it’s her go-to favorite. But what captivated me about it was the play on that Ligurian pasta dish called trofie with potatoes, pesto and green beans that several readers notes when I made a riff on it a couple month ago. I played around with it a little, deconstructing the pesto so the toasted pine nuts became a crunchy garnish and finishing it with wide flakes of parmesan. It was delicious and summery and my only regret was not taking any of the leftovers home so I could eat it today for lunch.

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, September 11, 2008

braised romano beans

braised romano beans

About a month ago, I told you that tomato season is the highlight of my culinary year, or at least the highlight of the parts I can buy at a Greenmarket. And then I went on about slow-roasted tomatoes for a few paragraphs and proceeded to leave you right there. At slow-roasted tomatoes. Because you know what? Once you discover them, you might lose the few weeks that follow.

romano beans

But eventually, you get into what I call Tomato Season, Phase 2. This means you’ve already had a month of slow-roasted and simply dressed tomato salads, and you’re ready to actually use tomatoes as an ingredient again. You get curious. You forget that you’ve got interminable months ahead of dry, flavorless, pink-hued cotton-like tomatoes, believing that there are enough tomatoes to last you until spring. I’ve got four recipes like this in the queue.

innardsknife workbasebraising

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