Tuesday, August 17, 2010

CSA Share Week 12

Just a quick note this week as we’re temporarily short handed. Sorry for the late posting.

The Italian fresh shell beans in this week’s share are an heirloom variety we grow every year. Crack open the shell and, depending on the stage at which the beans were picked, they can range from a pale green to a richly mottled white and rose. (Either way, sadly, they turn a drab beige when cooked.) We love their creamy texture and nutty flavor.

These beans are delicious, whether they are used to make succotash, added to a minestrone soup (using fresh tomatoes and green beans from this week’s share perhaps) or tossed into a pasta. We use the beans as many ways as we can think of—in pasta, on grilled pizza, tossed with caramelized onions and fresh thyme or slathered in pan drippings from a roast chicken. Store in your refrigerator. Any unused, cooked beans freeze well for winter soups or stews (see instructions for how to cook).

Tomatoes—1 large red plus 1 quart medium-small salad tomatoes
1 lb. 8 ounces Yukon gold potatoes
1 lb. 8 ounces Fresh Italian shell beans
1 bunch parsley
5 ½ ounces arugula
1 bunch basil
¾ lb (12 ounces) green or yellow wax beans
1 bunch beets

How to Cook Fresh Shell Beans
Shell the beans, discarding the pods. (This can be really relaxing.) Cover the colorfully mottled beans in chicken broth or water with a handful of added aromatics—such as leeks or onion, carrot, parsley stems, and a bay leaf. Either keep the aromatics in large enough pieces that you can easily fish out or bundle in cheesecloth. Bring the water or broth to a boil, and then reduce to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender (30 to 50 minutes; taste to check for doneness). Sadly, the beans will lose their color and mottling as they cook. Drain in a colander.

Quick-Roasted Beet Slices
We like this recipe because it requires a short amount of time in the oven and concentrates the inherently sweet flavor that beets have to offer.

1 bunch beets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt

After about 15 minutes, swap the pans to opposite racks and rotate halfway through.
Heat the oven to 425° F. Cover two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Slice off the tops and bottoms of the beets, reserving the beet greens for sautéing or another use if in good condition. Slice the beets into rounds as thin as possible (ideally 1/8 inch). If your beets are large, cut them in half first, lay them on their flat sides, and cut half moons instead of rounds for safer cutting. Toss the slices well with the olive oil and salt and spread them in one layer, with a little space between each, on the two baking sheets. After about 15 minutes, swap the pans to opposite racks and rotate so that they cook evenly. Continue to roast until the beets are soft and shrunken and crisp around the edges, about 25 minutes.
Serve immediately as is, drizzled with honey and melted butter, or with minced fresh basil and a drizzle of good-quality balsamic vinegar.

Or make the following salad with arugula and goat cheese salad.

Arugula with roasted beets and goat cheese saladServes 4 as a starter salad

5 ounces arugula
1 recipe quick-roasted beets (in this week’s newsletter)
Homemade balsamic or lemon vinaigrettte
1 ½ ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
¼ cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a serving bowl combine the arugula and beets. Lightly drizzle with a few tablespoons of vinaigrette and toss to combine. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with the goat cheese and walnuts and add more dressing to taste.

Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes, Arugula & Basil Dressing
by Maryellen Driscoll
Serves eight.

This recipe was originally developed for Fine Cooking magazine when I was 8 months pregnant with our son. That feels like ancient history (okay, 3 years), but a CSA member and close friend who tried this at the farm reminds me every year how much this dish inspired her to branch out. So I share it another year.

1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1 strip lemon zest about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide, white pith removed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 lb. fresh slender green beans, trimmed (long ones snapped in half)
1 cup arugula, rinsed and spun dry
1 cup large diced tomato (or cherry tomatoes)
¾ (5 oz.) 1-inch-diameter fresh mozzarella balls (ciliegine), halved
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice; more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Fill an stockpot three-quarters full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Put the basil and lemon zest in a metal sieve, immerse it in the boiling water, and blanch for 5 seconds. Remove, tapping the sieve over the sink to shake off excess water. Turn off the burner but leave the water in the pot with the cover on.

Roughly chop the lemon zest. Put the basil and lemon zest in a blender and pulse a few times. With the blender running, pour the olive oil through the lid’s fill hole and purée until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. Transfer to a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and cover. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the salad.

Return the water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 Tbs. salt and the beans. Cook until the beans are crisp-tender or fully tender, depending on your preference, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Spread the beans on a large rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate to cool completely. If making more than an hour ahead, cover and refrigerate.

In a large bowl, combine the cooled beans with the arugula, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Toss with the basil oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more lemon juice.

Make Ahead Tips
You can cook the beans up to a day ahead, just spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate. The basil dressing can also be made a day ahead. Wait to combine the beans and dressing until just before serving.

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