Category Archives: Sides and Salads

FRENCH GREEN BEANS

This week I harvested quite a few of the French filet beans or haricot vert variety called Rolande. I grew them from seed from Renee’s Garden, located in Felton, California (www.reneesgarden.com)  I’ve been happy with all the plants I’ve grown with seed from Renee. These beans have a delicate but definite flavor and don’t need a lot of sauce or other ingredients.

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POLENTA

There are almost as many ways to make polenta as there are ways to make beans. The wonderful chef Judy Rogers included a tasty recipe in The Zuni Café Cookbook, W.W. Norton and Company, 2002. Here is my recipe for polenta. I find this the easiest way to make polenta because it doesn’t require an inordinate amount of stirring. You will need a large saucepan and a double-boiler with at least a six cup capacity.   CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

RIO ZAPE BEANS

These dark purple beauties make a wonderful pot liquor. The beans have black stripes on them and are a lighter color before they are cooked. I purchased these beans from www.ranchogordo.com, the company started by Steve Sando that specializes in heirloom new world beans. According to Sando, they are also known as Hopi String Beans and while they are somewhat like pinto beans the Rio Zape beans have a deeper flavor.   CLICK HERE FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE

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APPLE WALNUT CELERY SALAD WITH HONEY MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE

This is my favorite combination of ingredients for salad. I use the best flavored apples that I can find. I am partial to butter lettuce because it contrasts with the crunchy ingredients and is a good foil for the vinaigrette, but any favorite will do. I make this salad all year long to serve with lots of different dishes but it seems to have an affinity for dishes made with root vegetables.   CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE ARTICLE 

FARRO

Farro is a delicious grain that has a rich, nutty flavor and holds it shape and texture when cooked. It is somewhat reminiscent of barley. Its earliest common name was Emmer and it is native to the Fertile Crescent area of the Middle East. Grains found in the area have been dated back to 17,000 BC. It was cultivated in ancient Egypt along with einkorn and barley. Some think that the Romans conquered Egypt to control their granaries to feed the Roman legions. Pliny the Elder wrote that it was called far in his time. Farro has been grown in Tuscany for a long time and is part of their cuisine. Today farro is grown in many parts of Europe and Ethiopia and in the U.S. It grows best in barren, high-altitude terrain. Farro can be ground into flour for use in making bread and pasta although since it is low in gluten it must be combined with another flour when baking. CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

CASSOULET BEANS

Every time I eat some beans from Rancho Gordo I think that they are the best beans I’ve ever eaten. These white runner beans are grown in California from seed from southwestern France. In France they are called Tarbais beans. Steve Sando, founder of Rancho Gordo, calls them Cassoulet beans and said,

Tarbais beans were developed by generations of farmers in Tarbais, France. The original seed is a New World runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus) and most likely originated in Mexico. Out of respect for the French farmers and terroir, we’re calling the bean Cassoulet Bean. We think in order to call it Tarbais, it should be grown in southwestern France.

You can order these as well as many others at WWW.RANCHOGORDO.COM.

This silky, smooth bean can be used in many ways. These beans can be mashed and used as a spread or dip. They can be combined with some cooked greens and spooned over toast. They can be added to some flavorful vegetable stock and served over spaghetti. Or you can just eat them straight up with a piece of bread and a glass of wine. CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE ARTICLE