Tis a magical thing, when summer and the first beans arrive on the same day, a sign that something just might be 'right' with the world. So it happened on June 21, the day of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere, what the Finns and other Scandinavians call 'Midsummer.' I wore a dress from Finland, I cooked my favorite Finnish recipes, especially the oh-so-lovely Finnish Summer Soup (kësakeitto) and a favorite fruit dessert I intend to make all summer long, just to sample all the variations.
But the beans, oh my, the beans. They'd been off the bush no more than 10 minutes by the time they plopped into the bubbling pot of water so the only thing fresher would be dusting them off right there amid the tomatoes (doing fine, thank you, especially the cherry tomatoes I'm so fond of) and onions and cabbage and pattypan squash and cucumber, then crunching right in to taste sun and the sky captured in a bit of greenness no longer than a finger. There we were with a Finnish feast and all we could think was, "Let's make a meal of the beans."
Mine is a northern soul but if these beans are a sign of the summer to come, bring it on.
"... you are so right, the beans are so wonderful and delicious." ~ Sherry
"What a terrific dish! I've made it 3 times already!" ~ Anonymous
"Tried this dish last night. ... even my guest asked for the recipe." ~ Sparkling Mimi
CHILLED GREEN BEAN SALAD
with ROSEMARY & GARLIC OIL
Time to table: 45 minutes
ROSEMARY & GARLIC OIL
1/4 cup olive oil
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife
Big pot of well-salted water
1 pound fresh green beans, ends snipped
Big bowl of ice water
Fresh basil, chopped into thin ribbons
1 bulb shallot, peeled and sliced thin on the cross-wise
Good salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel or another large-grain flaky salt (don't skip this - it somehow makes the dish)
ROSEMARY & GARLIC OIL In a small saucepan, gently warm the olive oil, rosemary and garlic just until the garlic begins to sizzle. Turn off the heat and let the rosemary and garlic flavors infuse the oil.
BEANS Bring the water to a boil. Drop in the beans and let them cook for about 7 minutes, until done but still bright green and quite crispy. Drain the beans and immediately immerse into the ice water, let cool for a minute or two and then drain again. Place the beans on a double layer of paper towels and pat to dry.
TO FINISH Toss the beans with about 1 tablespoon of the oil, reserving the rest for another purpose (or more beans, tomorrow). (Stop here if making ahead of time.) Arrange on a serving plate, sprinkle with basil, shallot rings and salt.
TO MAKE AHEAD Cook the beans, toss in the oil, then refrigerate. Arrange on a serving plate, let warm to room temperature, then sprinkle with basil, shallot and salt.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
Be generous with salt in the water and on top, they really 'make' green beans, even beans fresh from the garden. Health-wise, if we eat "no processed food", we have few worries about salt intake.
I've learned that two garlic cloves are really important to this, as is 'smashing' the garlic vs just chopping into two or three pieces: it makes sense, a smashed clove has more surface area from which to release its natural oils.
~ Falling In Love with Green Beans: Favorite Recipes ~
~ Fresh Three-Bean Salad ~
~ Green Beans with Lime Jalapeño Butter ~
~ World's Best Green Bean Casserole ~
~ more green bean recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Eggplant & Bean Thai Curry ~
~ Make-Ahead Fresh Green Bean Casserole ~
~ more green bean recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade