Is That Phallic-Looking Potato a Dictator?
I’ve been wistful this week, thinking about my fam and the kinds of laughter that would only appear when all of us were together. The kind that makes you cry like a fool and wheeze, you can’t even get it out. Around the time that my little sister was first getting to know my then boyfriend-now husband, she laid some strict rules on him to be accepted into the family (all of this according to her alone, by the way). The most important one of the three (which I remember also included him doing a jump kick and possibly joining Facebook?) was to say something so ridiculously funny to her, she’d break out into silent laughter. It turned out this wasn’t much of a challenge given that my husband tends to be fucking hilarious the majority of the time, but I loved that my sister’s request was so telling of what was so very prized to her and to all of us in the fam. My husband completed a crew that has always (and will always) appreciate the times where we all get to do nothing but chill – I’m talking a backyard feast with plenty of grey goose, barbecue or blue crabs, farmer’s market produce gifted to my dad for playing music for the vendors, and an inordinate amount of stupid puns. Continue reading Potato Salad with Lemon Tarragon Aioli and Haricots Verts
Although this is barely a recipe, it can be construed as a damn good feast all by its lonesome. String beans honestly don’t need a whole lot of dressing up in order to be brilliant, and this recipe is the perfect proof of that. Garlic, butter and olive oil form a dressing for the tender crisp beans, showcasing their sweetness. Why mess with perfection?
If you like a little bit of added texture, feel free to toss in a smattering of slivered almonds. Or add dried cherries or cranberries for tartness. Whatever you choose to do, make it your own and don’t expend a lot of effort. The green beans are the stars of the show here. Continue reading Sauteed String Beans with Garlic
Summertime has always meant trips to the farmer’s market – from the dripingly ripe tomatoes to the sweetest ears of corn, I couldn’t help but swoon over access to ingredients as flavorful and delicious as these. Despite my dependence on the convenience of grocery stores, shopping at the market was a reminder of the fact that we can all make a commitment to using the freshest ingredients possible. Summertime meant easy access to the most incredible veggies, and took the focus off of planning before shopping. You could go with a blank slate and a lack of a menu, and just resign to be inspired by what was available. It was liberating, really.
This salad is a winner for the spontaneous and the planners alike – during the summer, heirloom tomatoes are readily available and simply begging to be tucked into. Green beans are crisp and sweet and ready to snap the ends and crunch away. You can even access buttery heirloom potatoes for use in this salad that come in just about every shade. The entire salad is held together by a basil vinaigrette that manages to brighten and highlight all of the flavors of the veggies. It makes a gorgeous potluck and the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats, but it’s nourishing enough as a main course and absolutely vegan. Like I said before, the perfect summer celebration.
Summer Salad of Fingerlings, Heirloom Tomatoes and String Beans
1 lb. of haricots vert or string beans, snipped of stems
1 lb. of fingerling potatoes
1 c. of heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1 c. cubed tomatoes)
juice of half a lemon
3 tbs. of red wine vinegar
2 cl. of garlic
1/2 c. of basil leaves
1/4 c. of olive oil
1/2 tsp. of black pepper
1 tsp. of salt
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt heavily. Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain with a slotted spoon and cool with running water. While the water is still boiling, plunk in the haricot verts and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and cool with running water. Add chilled potatoes and green beans to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes to the bowl and set aside.
In a food processor, add the garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Blitz to mince finely. Add the lemon and vinegar and blitz again. While the motor is running, stream in the olive oil. Turn off the food processor and pour dressing over the vegetables. Toss and chill for at least 15 minutes. Serve.
We always think of braising meats to bring out lovely, slow-cooked flavors, but what about veggies? Just as vegetables are delicious barely cooked and raw, so too do they gain character from slow cooking. Think of the beauty of caramelized onions, roasted eggplant or smoky greens. This recipe takes advantage of the ability of fresh string beans to absorb savory, saucy goodness when slowly braised in the oven. The Greeks often cook their green beans in tomato sauce until tender – this recipe is a spicy variation on that tradition.
These green beans are great because there’s no work in making them – just throw them in the oven and let them do their thing. I like to make them with Pastitsio as a spicy side dish. You can start these green beans in the oven and then prep your pastitsio. By the time you put the pastitsio in the oven, both dishes will finish at the same time.
Greek-Style Oven Baked String Beans
1 lb. of fresh green beans, snipped of stems
3 small potatoes, sliced into thin half moons
4 cl. of garlic
1/2 onion, diced
1 c. of tomato sauce
1/3 c. of vegetable oil
1 c. of vegetable stock (can substitute chicken stock)
1 tsp. of oregano
1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper
juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 375°. Place all ingredients into a dutch oven or oven-safe pot with a lid. Stir. Bake covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the veggies are tender and sauce is bubbly.
Summer, Summer, Summer Time! Oooooooh, Summertime!
Ok, maybe not summer yet, but I do like it when I can get produce to do my bidding at any given season and remind me of the joys of a fruitful harvest from the garden. This salad, based on one that I fell in love with at the restaurant The Smith, is a bright assortment of crisp and tart, sweet and salty flavors. It’ll make you want to sit in a hammock and sway on a warm summer night.
The salad calls for heirloom cherry tomatoes, but these little gems can be hard to come by out of season. As such, get the freshest ripest tomatoes you can find, regardless of size or color. In the middle of the summer, stores and markets offer what they sometimes call “ugly” tomatoes – these are actually heirlooms that are truly the tastiest tomatoes you can buy. Bumpy and abnormally shaped on the outside, they are bursting with juicy sweetness, reminding you of the joys of homegrown produce. My favorites are an heirloom variety that I used to grow back in the day called “Black Krim’s” – they were a sickly dark green on the outside and a gorgeous purple on the inside. I only gave them to people I liked, even when I had bumper crops of tomatoes hanging from the burdened vines. Continue reading String Bean & Heirloom Tomato Salad