The livin’ is pretty easy at the moment with mid-summer vegetables in full swing. Green beans, for example, are like a pair of summer sandals, culinarily speaking – they’re laid back, slip easily into any meal, and, like a comfy sandal, they make you feel good (vitamin C, iron, protein and potassium).
A couple of months ago, spur of the moment, I planted bush beans and am now reaping the rewards. Planted and watered them, that’s it, no other care required. They’ve become long, thin, green beauties. There are limits, literally, to bush beans – they produce a great round of beans and then it’s over. I’m harvesting a handful or two every day while they last, and preparing them simply, which by the way, is diametrically opposed to the fresh green beans I grew up with. Cooked for an hour, I swear, with onion, bacon and plenty of water, they were delicious I thought and still love them prepared in this way, though perhaps fifteen rather than fifty minutes.
Green beans lightly steamed and dressed: Cook for one minute, lid on, turn heat off and let sit for another minute, then pour water off. While still warm, dress with any variety of seasonings. My current favorite is to sprinkle the hot beans with a little olive oil, salt & pepper, tarragon vinegar and fresh tarragon. Toss together. Just that. Jerry Traunfeld suggests adding edible nasturtiums to the mix, not as a garnish, but as an integral part of the bean salad. At room temperature they’re terrific piled on a plate next to anything at all. They’re very friendly that way.
On top of lettuce, with a few tomatoes, these already dressed beans create instant salad.
Green beans are central to Julia Child’s supposedly favorite salad, Salad Niçoise.
Salad Niçoise Recipe
An entire meal or side salad with hard-boiled egg, lettuce greens, steamed potatoes, tuna fish, olives, anchovies, and tomatoes. Not to mention anything else you have that seems to fit the Niçoise character. Julia wouldn’t mind – she’d have done the same. The dressing pulls it together.
The Dressing: Use any dressing you like, or try this version which is very mustardy and perfect, I think. I used a crushed clove of garlic, 3/4 C olive oil & 1/4 C tarragon vinegar (3:1 ratio), a tablespoon of mustard. Dress the potatoes and beans while they’re still piping hot; drizzle more of the dressing over the assembled salad just before serving. Salt & pepper to taste and sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs – in this case tarragon and chives.
Another homage to Julia. And she would appreciate that, except for the olives, all ingredients on this assembled salad plate are locally harvested/produced – the beans, lettuce, tomatoes and herbs right from the backyard. Eggs and tuna are local too. Check out Poppy’s previous post, Tuna Taste Test.