Monday, May 26, 2014

Haricots Verts avec des Ciboules

One of our favorite things in Paris—the caveat being that all things in Paris were favorite things—but one of those favorite things was roving through some of the many open-air and covered markets that populate the city.

From the Bastille to Saint Germain to Le Marché des Enfants Rouges, we wandered happily among the stalls piled high with oranges and apricots, melons from Morocco, bright red globes of cherry tomatoes still on the vine, leafy bundles of oblong French breakfast radishes, escarole and red mustard frisée—pausing to purchase a handful of green beans here, a bundle of spring onions there—and oh, there's bread around the corner and come look at this terrine over here and did you see all those cheeses, and wouldn't tonight be a perfect night for a picnic in the apartment?

So we picnicked. Frequently. With these green beans as a recurring staple.


Ingredients (per person)
A handful of French green beans (thinner and crisper than the typical supermarket variety, but any fresh and crisp green beans will do...if they taste juicy and sweet when raw, they'll work here)
2 spring onions,white and light green parts, sliced
Olive oil
Fleur de sel or kosher salt

Heat a pan over medium-low heat. When hot, drizzle with olive oil and sauté the spring onions until they soften. Toss in the green beans and stir to coat. Cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cover the pan to let steam for another 3-5 minutes or so until al dente, stirring once or twice—you want the beans just barely cooked, still with a bit of crunch.

Serve hot, sprinkled with fleur de sel.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Paris Preview

Don't you fret, blogosphere. It's not that I haven't been cooking up or tracking down new culinary adventures to share. It's just that my mouth has been too full of heaven for my brain to formulate the words.



Rest assured that I will tell you all about it. Soon. Maybe one more bite.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Orzotto with Braised Collards

One side effect of becoming obsessed with vegetables is that every now and then—surely no more than five times a week—I forget to consider the rest of the meal. For example, sometimes I start thinking about collard greens, and then I can't think of anything else. Or if I do manage to consider other food groups, they pale in comparison. "Collard greens," I say to myself. "And lentils?" asks a small, distant, entirely irrelevant voice in my head. "COLLARD GREENS," I repeat, out loud, more firmly this time. "Um, well, actually," says the person standing next to me at the co-op, where I stand gazing longingly at the leafy vegetable section, "I was just hoping to squeeze past you to get some carrots."

The point being, I buy the collard greens, I speed home to cook the collard greens, and somewhere halfway through slicing them, it occurs to me that they may not actually make up an entire dinner all by themselves.

Fortunately, I am an experienced cupboard forager. Which in this case turned up orzo and butter beans. The result? Rich, satisfying, collard greeny pasta perfection.

Olive oil
1 large red onion, halved and sliced fairly thinly
2 strips Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon, sliced into strips
3 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 bunch collard greens, halved lengthwise and sliced into one-inch strips*
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 loose tbsp finely chopped oregano
1/3 cup chicken broth + 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 rounded cups whole wheat orzo pasta
1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained**
Parmesan (optional)

Sauté onions over medium-high heat in a wide pan with a little olive oil for a minute or so, until they begin to cook down a little. Push to one side and add the bacon to the other. Cook until the bacon begins to brown a little, turning the onions over once or twice in the meantime. Stir to combine, and continue cooking until until the onions are golden. Add the garlic, turn heat to medium, and saute for one minute more. Add the greens and salt and cook, stirring, for two more minutes, then add the oregano and 1/3 cup broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if it starts to dry out.

About 15 minutes before the collards are done, start the 1 1/4 cups of broth heating in a small pot. Bring to a boil.

When there are about 10 minutes left, add the butter beans to the collard greens and stir to combine. Replace the cover. Add the orzo to the broth, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 9 minutes or according to package directions, stirring once in the middle. Uncover, stir, and simmer off any excess broth. Fold the pasta into the collard greens.

Add a little grated Parmesan if desired, top with black pepper, and serve warm (too hot and you'll lose some of the flavor).

Serves 3.

*If you have a particularly small bunch of collard greens, you can add about 1/2 cup of frozen kale or spinach when you add the butter beans if you want a little more green.
**World Market has Italian butter beans that are much more giant, fat, and buttery than the normal butter beans you find in the supermarket. They are particularly amazing in pastas and pasta salads. They are also not remotely local or BPA-free, so I'm not recommending them, I'm just objectively describing their tendency to make my tastebuds swoon with happiness.