Having just returned from a lovely spring trip to Paris then Florence, I am enthused by all the incredibly delicious French and Italian food we enjoyed! I’m also eager to see how I could incorporate more of the wonderful ingredients and combinations of flavors in my home cooking.
First up was my determination to source big beautiful Italian Corona beans– so buttery in texture, and seemingly versatile! After I found them locally, of course I wanted fresh basil and garlic with my Corona beans… It’s a wet Spring here in the Pacific NW, so French green beans — haricot verts– were a logical choice too for this bean salad over hardy mixed greens. A bright Tuscan sun yellow pepper, black olives, and red onion rounded out the picture in my mind, with photo here now for posterity. So simple, and so good. (Having enjoyed so much good cheese on our trip, of course I was tempted to garnish this with Pecorino Romano– now in my fridge. I resisted the urge this time, acknowledging it would be tasty.)
1 1/2 cups dried Corona beans
1 lb haricot verts, chopped 1 in long
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 large leaves fresh basil
1 t fresh lemon thyme, diced
black olives, quartered
fresh ground green pepper to taste
Cull then rinse beans, cover with fresh water and allow to soak for 24 hours. Rinse, cover with fresh water, bring to boil, then simmer uncovered for about 1 1/2-2 hours, until beans are soft. Turn off heat, allow to cool in water. Drain, set aside in casserole dish. Saute garlic for 1 minute in olive oil, then add haricot verts and continue to saute, stirring over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add a couple tablespoons of water, cover, reduce heat and simmer until beans are bright green and just slightly softened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove haricot verts to casserole dish. Saute chopped yellow pepper with lemon thyme and basil for about 3 minutes, until bright yellow and slightly soft, add to casserole dish, together with chopped red onion and black olives, stirring all together well. Dress with lemon juice and pulp, a drizzle of olive oil, ground green pepper to taste.
Delicious Bajiya patties made by the Horn of Africa restaurant that we ate at the Oregon Brewers Festival recently were my inspiration for this recipe. I saw from their menu that theirs were made of ground garbanzos and split peas, lightly fried. I had some things I wanted to use up in my refrigerator, also some good cold beer, and a friend coming over… and came up with this, which we enjoyed.
1 can garbanzo beans, mostly lightly mashed
1 stock celery, finely chopped, about 1/2 c
3 leaves Lacinato kale, finely chopped, about 1 c
8-10 large leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano pepper, including seeds, finely chopped
1 1/2 c cooked quinoa
scant 1/4 c oat flour
1/4 c parmesan cheese, or to make vegan use roughy ground walnuts
2 eggs, or to make vegan use 3T ground flax seeds mixed with water to same consistency as eggs
dash or two balsamic vinegar
1/8-1/4 t salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375F, and lightly wipe baking sheet with 1-2 T of olive oil. Rinse canned beans very well, drain, then mostly lightly mash in a large mixing bowl: leave just enough partial bean chunks to provide for an interesting texture, but not so large chunks as to cause the patties to fall apart when baked. Chop and dice and mix all veggies, then add to the mashed garbanzos with the cooked quinoa and flour, parmesan, salt and pepper. Break and stir the eggs, or in lieu of eggs the ground flax seed, then stir the balsamic vinegar and eggs into the bean mixture. Batter will be very sticky and heavy. Use a 1/4 c scoop, then your palm to form lightly flattened round patties. Bake about 18 minutes, then check the bottoms; flip carefully and bake for another 10 minutes or so, until lightly browned both bottom and top, and a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12-14. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. These store well in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple days, also freeze well when separated by wax paper.
It’s January again, and the gym is rocking full as so many earnestly begin their New Year resolutions to lose weight and live more healthfully. Days are shorter and work seems harder after leisurely time off over Christmas. So friends ask me more often at this time of year, “How do you eat a good fast lunch at work?” and “How do you get a good dinner on the table fast after work and the kid’s team practices?”, as well as the standard “How do you manage to get enough protein not eating meat?” My answers are simple– cook ahead larger batches of simple whole foods with their own natural bright flavors. Keep basic staples in your cupboards and fridge. Include legumes, seeds and nuts in your diet daily. Try new ingredients, in new combos. Eat mostly local foods, in season, but allow yourself to enjoy too the occasional ingredient that may be from afar- or a season afar- if that makes your recipe pop. Enjoy!
After many days of winter root based soups, and potatoes or yams with dark greens combos, now that the sun is out and it’s clear and cold, I wanted something savory and bright…so decided to go to the Mediterranean for a sunny and heart healthy fava bean salad…
16 oz frozen fava beans
1 small yellow onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 jar artichoke hearts
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
3/4 cup bulgur
olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Place bulgur in large casserole dish with lid. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil, then stir into bulgur, cover and let rest for 15 minutes. Drain off any residual water, fluff with fork. Place frozen fava beans into saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil then turn down heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until beans feel soft and you can readily peel away the inner skin. Drain, rinse in cold water, then enjoy popping each bean out of its inner skin. Place a couple tablespoons olive oil into a large skillet, then saute the chopped onion until it starts to become translucent. Add garlic, chopped celery and peppers, also peeled fava beans and artichokes (first drain the artichokes, then rinse and drain again); stir all together as the peppers cook just enough to turn bright and begin to soften. Remove from heat. Add finely chopped fresh basil, bulgur, and juice of 1/2 squeezed lemon. Stir all together well, add black pepper to taste, also dress with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve warm or room temp for lunch at work, topped with feta cheese. Stores well in refrigerator in a casserole dish with airtight lid for several days.
1 1/2-2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup parmesean cheese
1/4 – 1/3 cup walnuts
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Peel garlic then drop into running food processor. After garlic has been finely chopped, add walnuts. After walnuts are finely chopped, add basil leaves and parmesean cheese, process until smooth. Lastly add olive oil a little at a time, until pesto is desired consistency. Can be frozen for later use.