GREEN BEANS AND CARROTS WITH SPICY ALMONDS

Green beans with almonds is such a simple recipe. A bit like avocado toast: grab bread, toast it, smash avocado on it, top with whatever you like, give it a fancy name and be done with it. Yet, here I am to share an almost non-recipe with you. It turns out that this was unexpectedly delicious. And I will be making it again and again. That makes it blog-worthy in my book. So there!

GREEN BEANS AND CARROTS WITH SPICY ALMONDS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground za’tar
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
a touch of olive oil butter
⅔ cup slivered almonds (or amount to taste)
green beans, cut into 1½-inch lengths
carrots, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt

To make the almonds: In a small bowl, combine the sugar, chili powder, za’tar, salt, and cayenne. Heat the olive oil in a small nonstick skillet. Add the almonds and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle them with the sugar-spice mixture and stir almost constantly until the spices are fragrant, do not let it burn. Move them to a plate and reserve at room temperature.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. You have two options: add the green beans and carrots and cook both together until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Or if you prefer the carrots a bit more tender, add them first, cook them for about 3 minutes, then add the green beans for additional 4 minutes of cooking. Drain both veggies well, lay over paper towels or a kitchen towel to remove all excess water.

Finish the preparation: Add the olive oil to the a non-stick skillet and heat over medium-heat. Add the green beans and carrots and toss well. Sautee until you get some color on some of the green beans and carrots, the less you move them around the more they will brown. Season with salt, add the almond mixture, toss just a couple of times to spread them around the veggies. Transfer to a serving dish.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Two game changers here, the inclusion of carrots and the sweet-and-spicy mix. We have green beans with almonds very often, but this preparation feels like a totally different recipe, with the carrots bringing a nice contrast of color, and the spice mixture giving just the right amount of naughtiness to the almonds. Simple, no doubt, but so delicious. Cumin could be a nice addition, although I do feel that it tends to overpower things a bit. You should come up with your own version of spices just keep the sugar and use your imagination. Keep in mind that nothing brightens up this type of dish more than a little squirt of lemon juice in the end, right before serving. I totally forgot about it.

Leftovers were great next day, but probably a lot better if someone had not picked all the almonds as a post-dinner snack. Confession: I did it. They were that tasty. I am sorry. Kind of.

Dinner is served!  Store-bought rotisserie chicken, a bit of rice and this tasty side dish.
Easy to bring to the table even after traveling the whole day.

ONE YEAR AGO: Quiche 101

TWO YEARS AGO: Persian Butternut Squash Soup

THREE YEARS AGO: Walnut Cranberry Sourdough Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Ottolenghi in Brazil?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Roasted Winter Vegetables with Miso-Lime Dressing

SIX YEARS AGO: 2012 Fitness Report: P90X2

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Caramelized Bananas

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

NINE YEARS AGO: Whole Wheat Bread

 

 

PAN-CHARRED VEGGIES FROM COOKING LIGHT

Cooking Light magazine, in their April 2014 issue published a nice article about pan-charring veggies for a boost in flavor. More than simply offering a recipe, they shared a general method to deal with veggies like asparagus and green beans. Veggies that can take the heat, so to speak. All you need to do is choose three basic components: the fat to coat the veggies after the initial charring, the acidic ingredient to brighten things up and the herbs added right before serving.  No matter which veggies you are dealing with, they will be ready in no time.  I know I sound like a broken record, but when I get home from work and it’s my turn to cook, the last thing I want is a side-dish that takes 45 minutes to prepare.  Give me something fast and flavorful, and I am game!

So here is my take number one on this method: charred asparagus flavored with lemon juice and fresh dill at the end… Before you accuse me of the capital culinary sin of non-seasonal cooking, let me say that this dish was made last May, not too long after I got the magazine. As usual, it takes me a while to go from table to blog. But, since last week I used this method to cook delicious green beans, I am taking the opportunity to talk about both dishes. Clearly, it’s all about the char…

AsparagusDill

PAN-CHARRED ASPARAGUS
(adapted from Cooking Light, April 2014)

Cooking spray
8 ounces asparagus, cut in pieces
1 + 1/2 teaspoons walnut oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
.
Heat a medium, heavy skillet (not nonstick) over high heat for 2 minutes.

Coat pan with cooking spray. Immediately add asparagus pieces to pan, shaking them into a single layer; cook, without stirring, 2 minutes or until asparagus is very lightly charred. Cook asparagus 5 more minutes or until crisp-tender and evenly charred, tossing occasionally.

Remove pan from heat. Let asparagus rest 1 minute. Add walnut oil; toss to coat asparagus pieces. Add lemon juice; toss. Turn on heat if necessary to evaporate most of liquid. Sprinkle asparagus with dill and salt; toss. Serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

And here is my take number two: the exact same method, using olive oil to coat green beans, a touch of apple cider vinegar as the acidic component, and fresh tarragon added at the end. Tarragon straight from the garden of our friend Cindy, who recently visited us with her husband. Remember, I am the lucky woman with the super generous friends…

GreenBeansTarragon2
Now, as I mentioned, this is all about the char… Look at these dark spots, aren’t they making you crave some green beans?

GreenBeansTarragon

Back in 2010 I  wrote a blog post about “Blasted Broccoli“, stove-top version. We loved that recipe so much that I went through a long phase of cooking it weekly. I can see that this method could be adapted for broccoli too. Or sugar snap peas.  Avocado oil, coconut oil, use your imagination (and your pantry) and play with this method.  You won’t be disappointed…

ONE YEAR AGO: Pomegranate Chicken Thighs and Carrot Mash

TWO YEARS AGO: The Many Faces of Kale

THREE YEARS AGO:  Short and Sweet

FOUR YEARS AGO: Ciabatta, a Classic Italian Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: Magical Lamb Stew

 

MISO IT UP

Green beans show up at our dinner table once a week, most of the time in a quick preparation with slivered, toasted almonds.  It’s nice to have some recipes that you can almost pull on your sleep.  This version from Bon Appetit is almost as simple, but feels a lot more special because it uses miso.  I suppose it’s the funk factor, that umami component that adds extra flavor. Try this recipe, even if you don’t normally use this Japanese gem in your cooking. You’ll love it, I am sure.

GREEN BEANS WITH MISO AND ALMONDS
(adapted from Bon Appetit)

2 + 1/2 pounds green beans
salt
1/4 cup white miso (may use less if you are a miso newbie)
3 tablespoons  rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Cut green beans in pieces 1 to 1.5 inches long. Cook them in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender (less than 5 minutes). Transfer to a large bowl of ice water to cool. Drain well. 

Whisk miso,  vinegar, mustard, oil, and sugar in a small bowl. Season with salt, but very lightly because miso is already salty. Place green beans in a large bowl. Pour dressing over; toss to coat. Garnish with almonds.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I always have miso in the fridge. It keeps for a long time, and shows up more and more in recipes everywhere. I often add it to sauteed mushrooms, but green beans match equally well with the sweet-saltiness of miso.  Yin and Yang.  Gotta love it!

This dish is a great side for chicken, salmon, steak, or pork. And leftovers are excellent even at room temperature.

ONE YEAR AGOZiti with Fresh Artichokes and Meyer Lemon Sauce

TWO YEARS AGO: Chicken Soup on a Chilly Evening

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

THE END OF GREEN BEAN CRUELTY

I’m talking about THIN green beans, of course…   😉

We learned about Michel Richard firsthand, at his wonderful, exciting restaurant Central in Washington DC.  What a delicious experience it was! The bread – that keeps coming to the table, always warm and impossible to say no to – and the gougeres alone are worth stopping by.  In his book Happy in the Kitchen, Michel Richard comments  that  most recipes for green beans cook them in boiling water, then quickly shock them in an ice-bath. However, he adamantly opposes this method when dealing with pencil-thin green beans. They are so delicate, so why would anyone furiously boil and shock the poor things, leaving them limp and lifeless?

I’ve been guilty of such green bean cruelty more than once, but I won’t ever do it again. When prepared  by Michel’s guidelines, they are simply irresistible, even served without any embellishments. However, pairing these beauties with small roasted tomatoes didn’t hurt them a bit.

GREEN BEANS WITH ROASTED TOMATOES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the green beans:
a bunch of pencil-thin green beans (amount enough for two)
1 Tbs olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp orange zest
salt and pepper to taste

for the tomatoes
1 cup of grape tomatoes, cut in half
drizzle of olive oil
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Start by roasting the tomatoes.  Spread them in a single layer on a small baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up. Drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, shake them around, and season with salt and pepper.  Place in a 400 F oven until they get soft and start to brown around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes. Reserve, keeping warm.

Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet, add the red pepper flakes and the orange zest.  Keep in a gentle heat for a couple of minutes, until the mixture starts to get fragrant.  Increase the heat, add the green beans, and let them cook for a few minutes undisturbed, so that they get a little color where they make contact with the pan.  Stir them around to coat the beans with the flavored oil, and saute for a little while longer, until the beans are cooked through, but still al dente. Don’t overcook! Season with salt and pepper, add the roasted tomatoes on top, and mix gently.  Adjust seasoning, and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Michel Richard’s main message is to cook thin green beans straight by sauteing in a small amount of fat.  You can substitute butter or a mixture of butter and olive oil, or use a different type of oil, keep in mind that some – like walnut oil –  burn at a lower temperature, so it’s best to add them close to the end of cooking.

The combination of green beans and orange zest, worked quite well in this recipe,  with the touch of balsamic vinegar brought by the tomatoes.  It was a nice side dish for our grilled flank steak, but if you want a fully vegetarian meal, add some pasta or couscous, a big salad and a thick slice of grilled bread.  It’s  more than enough for a tasty dinner.  Just remember, be kind to the green beans!  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

LIGHT AND HEALTHY ORZO SALAD

We are sometimes on a mission to cut calories or fat, and this holiday season was one of moderation for us, perhaps because cooking in a tiny kitchen forced us to minimize the excesses. ;-).  With this goal in mind it doesn’t get any better than a light and healthy lunch, and this salad feels like a complete meal that will satisfy you until dinner.  The inspiration is from Tyler Florence’s book,  Tyler’s Ultimate.  It was originally made with rice and served with a lemony, oven-baked chicken curry.  However, my Brazilian genes resisted the idea of serving cold rice as a salad, so instead I used orzo, and I also modified  the seasoning.  Make a large batch and you’ll enjoy it for several days!

MANGO-ORZO SALAD WITH GREEN BEANS
(adapted from Tyler’s Ultimate)

1 cup orzo pasta
1/2 pound green beans
1 mango, diced
2 T fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup roasted, lightly salted  cashews
1 T olive oil
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the orzo in plenty of boiling water, drain and place on a baking sheet to cool quickly.  Drizzle a little olive oil and lemon juice to prevent it from sticking.

Trim the green beans and cut in 1 inch pieces.  Cook in boiling salted water for 4 minutes, then drain and plunge in ice water to stop cooking and set the vibrant green color.

Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil with lemon juice, season lightly with salt and pepper, and reserve.  Assemble the salad by mixing in a large bowl the cooled orzo, green beans, cashews, and diced mango.  Add the minced cilantro leaves, drizzle the dressing all over, adjust seasoning, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  In many regions fresh mango may not be easy to find right now, but if you can locate it then don’t miss the opportunity to try it in a salad like this.  The mango we bought was not as ripe and juicy as the best examples from my childhood in Brazil, but in this recipe it worked just fine.

This salad has it all:  carbs from the orzo,  vitamins and fiber from the green beans and mango,  omega oils from the cashews, that together with the green beans, add a pleasant “crunch.”

Some people even enjoyed it heated in the microwave as a side dish with their steak. 😉  It was also delicious that way.  If you want to serve it hot,  consider adding the diced mango and the cilantro at the very end.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

ONE YEAR AGO: Beef Wellington (when you have romance in your mind…)

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

GRATING TOMATOES (AND LOVING IT)!

I’ve grated cheese, old bread, chocolate, lemon peel, and ginger root…  I’ve grated zucchini, potatoes, and apples.  Tomatoes?  Never thought I ever would.  But a dear friend of mine (hi, Heather!) did just that and raved about it.  She is such an awesome cook, I never hesitate to follow her recommendations.  The recipe was published in the food section of the New York Times last month.

PASTA WITH GRATED TOMATO SAUCE AND GREEN BEANS
(from The New York Times, August 2010)

3/4 pound ripe, locally grown tomatoes
1  garlic clove,  finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2  teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces green beans, trimmed
3/4 pound farfalle pasta
2 tablespoons basil leaves, slivered
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmiggiano cheese for serving

Begin heating a large pot of water. If you happen to be cooking in the nano-kitchen, this step should be started 2 hours before dinner, give or take 10 minutes. Cut the tomatoes in half across the equator, and grate on the large holes of a box grater into a wide bowl, discard skin. Stir in the garlic, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the green beans, cooking them for four minutes.   Transfer to a bowl of cold water, drain and dry on paper towels. Keep the water in the pot boiling for the pasta. Cut the beans into two-inch lengths (I cut smaller), and add to the bowl with the tomatoes.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente.  When it’s done, drain and toss with the tomato mixture, basil and cheese.

(Makes 4 servings)

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: These gorgeous heirloom tomatoes were my first acquisition in the market in Los Angeles.  I’ve made plenty of raw tomato sauces before, normally using a food processor or blender, sometimes just dicing them by hand.  Grating is easy, fast, and produces a very interesting texture.  The skin of the tomatoes act to protect your hand during grating –  just don’t get overly excited – once you feel it laying flat on the surface of the grater, you are done.  I did not bother removing the seeds, but if you want an even smoother texture, squeeze them gently to de-seed, and then grate the flesh.  I am looking forward to using this basic tomato sauce with asparagus, capers, black olives…

Those following my adventures might be wondering how on Earth could I cook pasta without a stove?  Well, we found a little something in the house, still in its box,  never used.   It takes its sweet time to boil water, but beggars can’t be choosers, can they?

ONE YEAR AGO: Peach Pie

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine