Beans are not exciting to my children. In fact, my deepest, darkest confession to you is that, despite my boundless veggie enthusiasm, and my best efforts, my kids really don't like many vegetables. I'm not going to go to great lengths to disguise them (although I do like the idea of pureeing extra goodness into tomato sauce), I just want them to like them! My mother reminds me that we need to taste new foods about ten times before we start enjoying them, so that is why I turn a blind eye to the giant cup of plum sauce my daughter needs to get down 3 spears of broccoli. I don't care if they dip their peas in ketchup! Just eat it. On the list of acceptable: Carrots, raw. Sugar snap peas. Cucumbers. Pickles (I know they're cucumbers, but I'm desperate!) Red peppers. Potatoes. And, my son likes to eat green beans, but only the teeny babies out of the pod, thus reducing his consumption by about 98%.
Anyhow, company was coming, so I knew my efforts had a better chance of being appreciated. My friend Christy Ann's husband James has a gorgeous, neatly arranged garden that is apparently producing like mad. Along with the most beautiful head of cauliflower ever grown (about the size of the heads of three children put together) he brought along a bag of pristine fresh green and wax beans. I happen to know that if you have beans, you've got BEANS, and as a child I remember having to pick way too many from our garden. I mercilessly yanked the beans from the plants, hoping to uproot them and avoid having to do this duty again. Anyway, I didn't plant enough this year for our winter needs, so I was very grateful for the gift. And the fact that they were already picked.
Beans are a great favourite of mine now, and I love them roasted. This is another Mollie Katzen trick: Toss a great number of Green or Wax Beans with Olive Oil and salt, then roast them at 400 (can anyone tell me how to make a degree symbol appear???) for about 30 minutes, tossing them every ten minutes or so, until tender and browned in spots. Drizzle with a little balsamic or lemon juice.
As a kid, I had a big thing for Three Bean Salad. Still do. Since I'm sure you don't need a recipe for that, here's a variation on the sweet and sour theme, with a fresh hit of basil to keep it fancy enough for good company.
Green Bean Salad with Feta and Basil
4 C. Green or Wax Beans, stemmed and snapped in half
1 C. diced Red Pepper
1/2 C. fresh Basil
1 T. Sugar (or leave it out if you prefer)
1 clove Garlic
1/4 C. Apple Cider Vinegar
1/3 C. crumbled Feta Cheese
2 T. Olive Oil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Toss in the beans, bring the water back to a boil, and cook for 5-7 minutes, until just tender. Meanwhile, combine all the basil, sugar, garlic, vinegar, feta and olive oil in a food processor and blend until smooth. Once the beans are cooked, drain them thoroughly and combine with while still hot with the dressing and the red pepper. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
We had slow cooked barbecue ribs that I brought home from the Cafe for dinner with the bean salad, so we had to have potatoes in some form or other! This is my grandmother's method for pan-roasted potatoes. You don't want to turn on the oven, right? The parsley at the end is wonderful, but not essential. You could also use thyme, dill, or basil!
2 lb. little New Potatoes
2 T. Olive Oil
1/4 C. minced Parsley
Salt and Pepper
Wash the potatoes well and cut them in half. Heat a large skillet (preferably 12 inch, or prepare in batches) over medium high heat for a few minutes, then pour in the oil. Tilt the pan to coat it, then throw in the potatoes. Try to spread them in one layer. Cover the pan and cook for 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time. Test a potato to make sure it's tender, then stir in the parsley and salt and pepper to taste. These potatoes can be prepared at least an hour ahead and left to sit in the pan on the stove until everything else is ready.