Number One: How to cook green beans in the microwave.
How did I miss cooking green beans in the microwave? (Perhaps because I didn't have one for so many years? Perhaps because the one in the kitchen is serially referred to as the Popcorn Maker and the Butter Melter and the Water Boiler?) Call me hooked, these fresh green beans cooked in the microwave were great.
Number Two: A new flavor profile, thanks to my new favorite cookbook, Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday. The beans are the cookbook's maiden recipe but I've been pouring through the pages, bookmarking recipes, underlining ingredients, strategizing what to make when. Once again, call me hooked.
This is home cooking, Mexican style. The ingredients are (mostly) familiar and (mostly) available. And it doesn't endorse cooking by prescription but by taste. Every single recipe includes adaptations and embellishments.
The dressing is made from only lime juice, cilantro and tomatilla salsa. Rick's recipe called for 3/4 cup of oil, I used 1/4 cup and would even consider none at all. For the tomatillo salsa, I checked the 'Mexican' shelves at the grocery (for St. Louisans, Dierberg's in Rock Hill) to find 20 selections of tomato salsa, mostly priced $4 - $5. But hidden near the end was a seven-ounce can of something called 'green Mexican salsa' from La Costena. I checked the label, the first ingredient of seven (and no chemical names) ingredients was tomatillo. It was $.89. Sold.
Once made, a "finger wipe" taste test had me wondering if the dressing would be any good. But truly -- it was a perfect temper for the green beans. And hmm, what about cauliflower, sweet potatoes, or a dipping sauce for grilled meat ...
The cookbook suggests this as a room temperature salad. I served it as a hot side dish. You won't go wrong, either way.
FROM THE ARCHIVES Other vegetables cooked in the microwave include
whole ears of corn, broccoli, cabbage and acorn squash, all in the Recipe Box. (How do I know? I entered 'microwave' in the search box in the header. Yes, it's that easy!)
A YEAR AGO Pride of Erin Soup, "Ah, so wholesome, so so delicious!"
FROM GREAT FOOD BLOGS
I'm not the first to rave about Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday. See what others say about the cookbook's recipes!
Nika's Culinaria ... homemade corn tortillas
The Paupered Chef ... Mexican chopped salad with avocado dressing
Simply Recipes ... Chipotle Meatballs
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GREEN BEANS with TOMATILLO SALSA DRESSING
Time to table: 20 minutes
Juice of 2 limes (about 3 tablespoons)
1/2 cup green tomatillo salsa (Rick says 'good quality' salsa, preferably tomatillo)
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil or a mixture (Rick uses 3/4 cup, I'd also try it without oil but some replacement liquid, maybe chicken broth or even buttermilk)
Salt to taste
Mix ingredients in blender. Makes about 2/3 cup (so plenty for another time).
1 pound green beans, stem ends snapped, broken into bite-size pieces
Place beans and a tablespoon of water in a microwave dish. Cover with plastic wrap, pierce in two or three places to allow air to escape. Cook til done (Rick says 3 minutes, my mike took 6, this will vary all over depending on the mike's power.) If needed, drain.
2 tablespoons dressing
Red onion, sliced very thin
Salt to taste
Additional cilantro for garnish
Toss together dressing, beans and onion. Taste and season to taste. Garnish with cilantro.