The Green Bean Love Train
When a What's Cooking reader from Boston, Mass. asked for ideas for a bunch of newly purchased green beans, she spoke to my heart. Whenever I look at a fresh green bean, which are coming into season in the southeast, I always see possibilities. It seems I've got enthusiastic company, as fellow readers chimed in with their own personal green bean-y faves.
During the live chat, I only had time to share recipe details for these Szechuan-style green beans, which have become a summer dinner party staple at Casa Appetite, but ever since, I've had green beans on the brain, gathering recipe and flavor combination ideas that keep the green bean love-a-thon going.
Before we get started, I wanted to mention a bit of nutritional information about our friend, the green bean: One cup offers 16 percent of the RDA for dietary fiber and 20 percent for vitamin C (a new one for me). It's also got a fair amount of iron and potassium.
Below, a handful of green-bean inspired notions from yours truly and a small handful of cookbook authors representing a variety of cuisines. Have a looksee and please add your favorites to the list!
* Try this quickie hot salad with little tomatoes, walnuts and herbs. Don't worry if you don't have walnuts; use what you've got on hand. The same applies to herbs -- green beans play nicely with mint, parsley and basil, as a garnish.
* Speaking of herbs, what about a gremolata (mix of parsley, garlic and lemon zest) added to shalloty sauteed green beans....
* I'm intrigued by the idea of making a sauce from almond butter(!), seasoned with soy sauce and rice vinegar for some quickly boiled or steamed beans. This comes from chef Martha Stafford, owner of the Charlottesville Cooking School who contributed this nifty idea to "Cooking Fresh from the Mid-Atlantic" by Fran McManus & Wendy Rickard.
* Madelain Farah in her "Lebanese Cuisine" offers up a handful of green bean options (known as Lubyil in Arabic), including Lubyi biz-Zayt -- braised with plenty of onion and garlic in a marinara sauce.
* Austin, Tex.-based cookbook writer and cooking instructor Angela Shelf Medearis has a slew of green bean-centric ideas in her "The Ethnic Vegetarian"; I'm game to follow her lead on a vinaigrette heavy on the sesame seeds and plenty of pepper, both black and red. She also offers up a South African-style sweet-and-sour egg-based sauce that includes malt vinegar, brown sugar and stone-ground mustard.
* Green beans are featured prominently in "Bon Appetit, Y'all," the new book by Atlanta-based food stylist and chef Virginia Willis. I love her pairing idea of kalamata or nicoise olives, and yes of course, let's not forget some version of minestrone, which she dishes up with okra, zucchini and lots of Vidalia onions. Incidentally, Willis will be in town next month for lunch/book party hosted by the Loulies gals.
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