Friday, July 27, 2007

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

This morning at the market, I picked up two varieties of snap beans I'd never tried before: Purple King and Dragon's Tongue. How could I resist such names? Not to mention their gorgeous colors?

The Purple King beans are essentially deep-purple colored string beans, but their insides are green. The contrast is striking and beautiful. And the Dragon Tongue beans are creamy white with bright purple streaks on the pods--apparently resembling giant lizards' tongues. The pods are as long as a typical green bean yet wider and flatter. Their insides are white.

I showcased these colorful gems in a Shredded Green Beans dish from Heidi Swanson's lovely Super Natural Cooking. I altered the recipe somewhat, substituting basil--from my personal supplier--for chives, and plugging in those awesomely-named beans for green beans. Sadly, the purple color of both beans faded somewhat in cooking, even though they were only on the heat for two minutes, but they still tasted fantastic: fresh, snappy, and I think the Dragon's Tongues even had a tiny little kick to them. I love this recipe because it's so simple, yet seems innovative because you slice the beans thinly, on an angle. They look so chic and un-bean-like.

I also threw together SJR's uncooked tomato sauce (from her comment on the Eat Local post), boiled some penne, and enjoyed a light summer meal that was heavy on flavor--and color.--S

Shredded Green Beans

3/4 lb green and/or yellow beans [or whatever varieties you'd like], tops and tails trimmed
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T water
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
Grated zest of 1 lime
1/4 c chopped fresh chives [or other herb]
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Slice the beans on a diagonal into roughly 1/8-in. pieces. If you are using a food processor, do them a handful at a time. Either way, the result should be tiny, angular zeroes.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beans and stir until coated with oil, then add the water. Cover and cook 2 or 3 minutes, until the beans are brightly colored and tender; give the pan a good shake midway through to ensure even cooking.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the zests and half of the chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve garnished with the remaining chives.

Serves 4

Recipe courtesy of Super Natural Cooking

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