Monday, August 31, 2009

Beans star in weekend dining

A bowl of just-picked 'Jade' green beans. I nibbled a few as I harvested. Just to keep my energy up.

It's all about the beans. And the herbs. And the potatoes. Is it any wonder why this is one of the best eating times of the year.

Let's start with the beans. Few vegetables give you so much bang for the buck, even in a semi-crummy growing season like this one. The green bush beans (variety is 'Jade') were ready for harvest last week. The bean harvest means one thing: Stir-fried Green Beans with Pork and Chilies from Madhur Jaffrey's "Far Eastern Cookery." This recipe has become a summer ritual for us; of course, we eat it other times of the year, too, but the first harvest of beans seems like an especially good time to enjoy it. You can adjust the amount of heat with the number of chilies you use. Here's the drill:

1 1/4 pound green beans
12-16 garlic cloves
6-9 fresh hot green or red chilies
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 ounces lean pork, ground
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce or salt to taste

Cut the beans into quarter-inch pieces. Peel and chop the garlic. Cut the chilies crosswise into very thin slices.

Put the oil in a wok and set it over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the garlic and chilies. Stir and fry until the garlic turns golden and then add the pork. Stir and fry, breaking up any lumps, until the pork has lost its raw look. Put in the beans, paprika, sugar, fish sauce and 1 1/4 cups water. Stir and cook on a medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes or until the beans are tender and most of the water has been absorbed.

We also used our own homegrown chilies (superchilies, well-suited for northern climates) and garlic in the Saturday night dinner. The psychic taste buds get a boost from using ingredients that came out of the garden only hours earlier.

We have never tried a Madhur Jaffrey recipe we didn't like. She's that good.

The beans and pork are just about done stir-frying in the wok. Serve them over jasmine rice.

And then there was Sunday dinner. Beans again, but this time it was the French filet beans (variety is 'Nickel', thinner and more delicate than other bush beans). They were steamed and sprinkled with summer savory, an easy-to-grow annual herb that will self-sow. It doesn't get much better than this. Except when you add freshly dug Norkotah mashed potatoes with fresh rosemary and chives and chicken baked with a poultice of rosemary, thyme, sage and olive oil tucked under the skin.

It's an herb extravaganza. Those are bits of summer savory on the filet beans. I love the garnish -- sage leaves with rosemary and chives. Sort of evokes a bird.


  1. Delish! Madhur Jaffrey is our favorite - we have cooked our way through "Simple Indian Cookery"! Love the photos of the garden and the sillydog! Love to all of you! Tracy, Alex and O

  2. I see a massive Indian food fest in our future ...