Saturday, July 20, 2013

i heart summer vegetables

Title is self-explanatory, though ever so slightly ripped off from another blog!

Let’s do a bit of case study here, shall we? We begin with pristine farmer’s market lima beans. 


I do as many photoshoots as possible on the deck to capture its lovely natural light. This always amuses my cat, who starts nuzzling the camera.


Being in a soup mood, as I am often inclined to be, I decided I wanted something cold, creamy, and herb-y.


This is not a recipe (though get excited, as there are two recipes- real ones!- below, but an approximation. I feel like it’s worth it to share an approximation, if it produces something wonderful with lima beans, as so many people are oddly scared of lima beans. I promise, they are good this way!)

- Cook ‘the beans til they’re tender. In whatever. I used chicken broth cause I had some languishing in the fridge.
- Let them cool a bit and puree them with their liquid.
- Add creaminess, if desired. Pureed beans, especially starchy ones like lima beans, already do a pretty good job of making a creamy soup, but since I had some buttermilk in the fridge I opted to add that too, which made it even creamier and contributed a welcome tang, which leads me to…
- Add flava! I added copious amounts of the wonderful fresh basil growing on my deck, lotsa salt and pepper, and lemon juice

It. was. greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeat! 

I enjoyed the soup over a course of a couple of meals but I wanted to highlight a delicious lunch I had, joined by my sister. The soup was a highlight, of course, as was an enormous bowl of guacamole, with homemade tortilla chips dunked in it. My sister, demonstrating the balance in her life, included in her lunch a plate covered of two totally crack-like substances she brought home: both chips. One bag of apple chips. One bag of kettle cooked sun-dried tomato parmesan potato chips. Gahhhh.

Anyway, we both focused on the guacamole. Love us some avocado.


And now, I have not one but TWO recipes highlighting delicious summer vegetables! It is a joy to share them, as well as somewhat of a relief that I have not completely forgotten how to be healthy. I had been inclined to believe, for awhile, that my health related to food was on an upswing, at least to the extent that my emotions connected to my eating habits. Then, blessedly summer returned and I threw myself with gusto into preparing the wonderful produce of the season. Groove=back.

We begin with…


Greek Style Green Beans

1/3 cup olive oil
1 small/medium onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic
1 T tomato paste
1 lb fresh green beans
1 large heirloom tomato (or 2 normal sized tomatoes), chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 cup water

Wash green beans, and with a knife or scissors, trim off the tips at both ends and any coarse strings that many remain.

In a large dish like a Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook onion in olive oil until translucent. Stir occasionally. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for an additional minute, stirring often, until they are evenly distributed through the onion. Add green beans and cook for an additional minute, stirring often, until they are evenly coated with the oil.

Then add remaining ingredients. Increase to high, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the green beans are tender, about 30-40 minutes for thick green beans like the ones shown above. If you want the sauce to be thinner, remove the lid of the pot for the last 5-10 minutes of cooking.

-The olive oil is present in large quantities. It is what gives the dish the majority of its flavor, and is authentic to the Greek origin of the recipe. If you make it with less olive oil, it will be less good. And olive oil is good for you. And you’re eating green beans, for heaven’s sake, so just add the whole 1/3 cup of olive oil, okay?
- I used the broad green beans available at many a farmer’s market this time of year. I was filled with delight when I saw them because they looked exactly like the green beans I ate with such gusto in Greece. You are, of course, welcome to use regular green beans. They will just cook for slightly less time. I also used a heaping pound of the green beans. In other words, the proportions aren’t set in stone.
- The allspice is present in small quantities because it has a distinctive, strong flavor. I love it in here, but any other herb, fresh or dried, would be great, too. If you are adding fresh herbs, of course add more than 1/4 tsp.
- Add water based on how saucy you want your final beans to be. This is a great dish for soaking up with bread or rice, but if you’d rather have a more basic side dish without a lot of sauce, you can add a lot less water.

This dish tastes like GREECE! Also, summer.


Since certain people’s boyfriends were leaving town, this certain person’s boyfriend left behind an ENORMOUS, almost COMICAL amount of kale in his beloved girlfriend’s kitchen. She rose to the occasion (oh, she rose. Just wait. This post is I Heart Summer Vegetables Part 1, friends), but there was just a TON, man!

Meanwhile, another ingredient I squealed with delight to see at the farmer’s market was fresh fennel.

I got out my scary dangerous trusty mandoline and made some thin slices of the good stuff, knowing they were destined for greatness.


A salad seemed a wise choice, and also a delicious one, combining the wonderful crunchy, licorice-y splendor of fresh fennel with the earthy bitterness of kale. I feel slightly silly writing a recipe for salad, and yet this was wonderful and I wanted it recorded so, if no other reason, I’d have it for the next time I myself wanted to make it.


Crunchy Kale, Fennel and Apple Salad

5 cups shredded kale
1 large green apple, very thinly sliced
1 bulb fennel, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup walnuts
2 T olive oil
the juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 T honey
2 T apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Combine kale, apple, fennel, and walnuts in a large salad bowl. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, honey, and apple cider vinegar with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the salad gently so as not to totally pulverize the apple slices!


Bonus: unlike some kale salads, this was just as good the next day or two. It might’ve been good after that, but we just ate it so quickly…

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