Monday, August 29, 2011
Provencal Green Beans
It's amazing how changing one or two ingredients can change the flavor profile of a dish and even cuisine one would attribute that dish to. Switch out onions in favor of leeks, add some thyme and black olives and all of a sudden we've been transported from a trattoria in Firenze to a cafe in Provence.
My first inclination when I saw I had green beans and leeks in the CSA distribution was to make this recipe from Heidi Swanson, but I, for the first time in a very long time, didn't have any dill. I didn't even had any dill oil. I actually used up all the dill oil. But I did have an abundance of basil. And tomato. And this recipe that I had saved a while ago when looking for something to do with green beans. This very Italian recipe.
For some reason though, leeks always make me think of Provencal cooking. This is likely inaccurate. I should probably call my friend Bari and check on that. She's a French teacher. She'll know. Anyway, I went from there and decided to add some thyme and olives. Delicious. But definitely no longer part of an Italian trattoria menu.
Since this was my Sunday night (post-hurricane) dinner and I had been engaging in some stress/cabin fever induced nutella-dipped pretzel eating, I wasn't terribly hungry and dinner was late. But if it had been a normal night I would have added some white beans or chickpeas to make a more substantial single pan meal. Since I didn't have any of those on hand, and I sure as heck wasn't venturing out to find them, they haven't been included. But I bet they'd be good.
Provencal Green Beans
Adapted from a recipe from Gourmet (May 2005)
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1 T butter (just double the olive oil to make vegan)
1 T olive oil
1/2 t dried thyme
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb green beans, cut into large pieces (1-1 1/2")
1 large Roma tomato, chopped
1/2 c water (I think white wine would be really good here too)
1/2 c chopped basil
1/4 c oil cured black olives, pitted and chopped
Add the butter and olive oil to a large skillet. Heat over medium heat until the butter is melted and beginning to foam a bit. Add the leek, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes, or until the leek is softened and beginning to caramelize a bit.
Add the green beans, basil, water and tomatoes. Bring mixture to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are crisp-tender. This took almost 20 minutes for my beans. But at this point in the season you get beans that are, how shall I put this delicately, mature. If you have younger green beans it will probably take much less time. Add the olives. Stir. Serve over rice. Make more rice than you think you'll need. Because even though your boyfriend says he only wants "half a bowl" he'll eat three. Then you'll have to eat your leftovers with no rice (which is also why the picture has no rice).
Serves 3 as a main, more as a side.