A new book from Martha Stewart always gets my attention and so do books focused on vegetables. I was delighted to receive a review copy of the latest, Martha Stewart's Vegetables. This brings together dishes for every season with all sorts of vegetables, but it’s not a vegetarian cookbook. The recipes highlight what’s great about the vegetables, and in some cases the star vegetable isn’t the only player in the dish. The chapters group types of vegetables like Bulbs, Roots, Greens, Pods, Fruits, etc. In this case, Fruits refers to tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and cucumber because they are technically fruits due to the seeds held within the flesh. Each chapter begins with an introduction to its type of vegetable with good information about how the plants are grown, their growing season, and some general tips for buying, storing, and preparing. This book is a little breezier about the vegetable information and doesn’t go quite as deep into the taxonomy of the plants as does Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, but it offers a very good overview of the different kinds of plants we include in our meals. And, page after page reveals beautiful dishes ranging from stir-fries to sandwiches to soups, salads, and pasta with inspiration from several types of cuisine. The Herb-and-Scallion Bread Pudding would be perfect for Thanksgiving, Beet Risotto with Beet Greens would brighten a winter table, and Twice-Cooked Potato and Leek Casserole looks like a comfort food dish no one could resist. I want to try the Fried Rice with Collard Greens, Fennel and Smoked Salmon Salad, and Moroccan Vegetable Soup. Right away, I was intrigued by the Green Bean and Shell Bean Fattoush, and all the main ingredients are in season here right now.
In the book, the recipe name is Green Bean, Shell Bean, and Sweet Onion Fattoush. But, I have an onion thing. I only use onion if it’s minced or if it’s in pieces large enough that I can easily scoot them out of my way on the plate. So, in my version, the onion was minced and whisked into the dressing for this salad. But, the important parts of this dish were the green beans, shell beans, and cucumber. I found all of those at Boggy Creek Farm. For green beans, I used purple and green long beans that I cut into two-inch lengths before blanching. The shell beans were fresh, golden creamer peas that cooked quickly with just about 15 minutes of simmering. Both kinds of beans were shocked with cold water after cooking and left to drain. The dressing, in my case, was made with minced onion, lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic. Olive oil was whisked into the mixture. Pita was grilled and broken into shards. The cooled and drained beans were tossed with chopped cucumber, parsley, and homegrown basil rather than mint. Crumbled feta was added along with the dressing, and the pita pieces were added to each serving.
This was a light and fresh take on using shell beans for me. Each year when their season arrives, I usually add them to a summery stew with chunks of summer squash and tomato. This herby, lemony salad was a delicious way to highlight their mild, buttery flavor. I know I’ll be reaching for this book often as different vegetables appear throughout the coming months.
Green Bean, Shell Bean, and Sweet Onion Fattoush
Recipe courtesy of Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright 2016 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Photographs copyright 2016 by Ngoc Ming Ngo.
In late summer, fresh green beans and shell beans make a wonderful pair, one sharp and crisp-tender, the other buttery and plump. They’re the beginnings of our version of fattoush, a Middle Eastern bread salad that’s a fine way to enjoy summer produce. You can blanch the beans in the same pot: first the green beans, and then the shell (and not the other way around, since shell beans release a lot of starch).
2 lemons, 1 zested and both juiced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Coarse salt and freshly
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/2 pound haricots verts, trimmed
3/4 cup shelled fresh shell beans, such as limas
3 pita breads (6-inch)
1/2 large Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
1 English cucumber, quartered and cut into 1- inch pieces
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic, and season with salt. Whisking constantly, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream and whisk until emulsified. Season with pepper. Let stand 15 minutes; discard garlic.
2. Blanch haricots verts in a pot of salted boiling water until crisp-tender and bright green, about 1 minute. Transfer beans to an ice-water bath (reserve pot of water); let cool, then drain and pat dry. Place in a large bowl.
3. Return water to a boil. Blanch shell beans until just tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to ice bath; let cool, then drain in a colander and pat dry. Combine with haricots verts.
4. Heat a grill (or grill pan) to medium. Split each pita in half. Brush both sides of pita halves with oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill pita, turning once, until golden and crisp, about 1 minute per side. Let cool, then tear into 1-inch pieces.
5. Add onion, cucumber, feta, herbs, and pita to the beans; drizzle with ½ cup vinaigrette; toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper; garnish with mint. Let stand at least 10
minutes and up to 1 hour before serving.
The pita is charred on the grill (or under the broiler) to make it sturdy enough to soak up the vinaigrette without falling apart. The longer the salad sits before serving (up to an hour), the better the flavors and textures will be.
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