Just when I thought if my appetite ennui became any more listless I might have to change lines of work, the greatest thing happened: I ran out of space. I mean, I am fully At Capacity right now with baby, there is literally not another inch of my midsection that this child can annex for his/her condo renovation or whatever it does at night (you hear that, darling? mama even ceded her belly button!) and this has shifted my appetite one final time, yet at last for the better. Meat is out, starchy carbs are out, I just can’t, they’re too heavy, and in their place are heaps of vegetables with a side order of All The Watermelon. For once, my timing is impeccable as this coincides with the full swing of local farmers markets, with freshly picked piles of summer everywhere you turn. I’ve been angling for as many all-vegetable meals as I can pull off — mixtures of our summer go-tos like this zucchini saute, caprese, quick-cooked corn, roasted baby potatoes with herbs, and pretty much anything green, roasted to a blistering crisp with lemon juice — with just enough chicken or sausage on the side to please the 2/3 of my family not currently repulsed by such things.
Green beans, pole beans, string beans, whatever you know them as, have been a longtime favorite vegetable of mine. [I’m even trying to grow my favorite skinny and delicate variety, haricot vert, although at the rate things are coming along, I expect the first harvest sometime around the first frost.] I love this salad with fried almonds, celery and pickled onions most of all, but also in a pesto potato salad and even in an old-school Thanksgiving casserole with crispy onions. But, as of this week, each of those preparations have been cast aside for my new favorite, and the way it came about is the best/weirdest part. I spied this photo on Ottolenghi’s Instagram last week and guys, I had no idea how he made these or what recipe of his this might be but (I mean this warmly) I also didn’t care. I knew what I wanted them to taste like — the photo had me dreaming of a nutty and loud sauce that clung to every string of bean — and made it so, dusting off the almond pesto from the cookbook and applying it to a rainbow of beans, cooked until just crisp-tender.
And then I ate all of them. My son claims he ate three, but we found them under his chair. My husband claims I only had half, but he’s being polite. Sometimes the baby demands burnt marshmallows, sometimes it needs ribs, and apparently sometimes it needs vegetables too. I’m too large and spent to be more than merely a vessel for its whims these days, and realistically the next 18 years. Even if I were to summon an ounce of protest, it would be absurd to waste it fighting these off. They’re too good.
One year ago: Blue and Red Berry Ricotta Galettes and Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings
Two years ago: Slow and Low Dry Rub Oven Chicken
Three years ago: Flag Cake and Blackberry Gin Fizz
Four years ago: Skirt Steak with Bloody Mary Tomato Salad
Five years ago: Zucchini and Ricotta Galette and Sour Cherry Pie with Almond Crumble
Six years ago: Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes, Mediterranean Pepper Salad and Cherry Brown Butter Bars
Seven years ago: Zucchini Strand Spaghetti and Project Wedding Cake: Ta-Da!
Eight years ago: Strawberry Chiffon Shortcake
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Popcorn Party Mix and My Ultimate Chicken Noodle Soup
1.5 Years Ago: Parmesan Broth with Kale and White Beans
2.5 Years Ago: Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Glaze and Carrot Soup with Miso and Sesame
3.5 Years Ago: Carrot Soup with Tahini and Crisped Chickpeas and Ethereally Smooth Hummus
Green Beans with Almond Pesto
This makes a great heap of green beans (double what you see in my photos), which could easily serve 6 to 8 non-pregnant people. You might find it easier to make the full amount of pesto and keep it in the fridge (it will keep for a week, if not longer), and use it with portions of green beans as needed.
2 pounds green beans
1 cup (5 ounces or 140 grams) almonds, toasted and cooled
1 1/4 ounces (about 1/3 cup grated) parmesan or aged pecorino cheese, but no need to grate if using a food processor
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Leaves from a sprig or two of thyme
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
2 to 3 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Trim green beans — I find using kitchen shears the quickest way — and cook beans in boiling water until crisp tender, about 3 to 4 minutes for regular green beans or 2 to 3 minutes for the skinnier “haricot vert” variety. Plunge in an ice water bath to fully cool. Drain and pat dry. (If you have no patience for the precision of ice water baths, take the green beans out a full minute early as they will continue cooking as they cool.)
In food processor, grind almonds, cheese, garlic, thyme, pepper and salt to a coarse paste. Add vinegar, and pulse again. Stir in oil and adjust seasonings to taste.
Toss cooled green beans with almond pesto. Drizzling with extra olive oil for a fresh glisten. Dig in.
Serving suggestions: a mix of cherry tomatoes, grilled bread drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with a halved garlic clove or even grilled sausages.