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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Beans 

First off, Celeste is doing well. I have much to blog about about her — sleep, no sleep, growth, pacifier concerns, her first trip to a restaurant, generally great baby stuff — but instead I'm going to blog about beans. (I hope that doesn't make me a bad father; I view it as a list of things that will inspire me to be a better blogger.)

So, beans. Not pinto or black or red, but green and lima. This is the story of Sunday.

Two weeks ago, while on Celeste's first trip to the Takoma Park Farmers Market, we picked up a pound of green beans. In buying them, I thought I'd make loubieh bi zayt (the Levantine green beans in olive oil dish that we've been enjoying for a while now); however, Evelin said she'd rather have something like the fasolakia we had at the Greek festival a few weeks ago. It seems the less complex spicing of the Greek dish is more in line with Evelin's taste than the multilayered bhār spice mix in the Levantine dish.

After checking my one Greek vegetarian cookbook, I found nothing that looked like the right balance of dill, green beans and Greek goodness, so I started googling various spellings of fasolakia and φασολάκια with little luck. In the end, I found a recipe for okra in dill and tomato sauce that looked like a good starting point.

In the end, I went with:Sauté the onion until it starts to get translucent, add the garlic and sauté a little longer. Add the dill, tomato and green beans and simmer 15 to 25 minutes, until the beans are tender. Season and serve.

It turned out pretty tasty. I'm not sure this recipe will completely replace the bhār version, but Evelin may feel otherwise.

The next bean dish also has its genesis at the farmers market.

This time, Evelin and Celeste stayed home while I ran out early enough to make sure the eggs weren't sold out. I also picked up fresh dill for the fasolakia variant (I didn't have a recipe at the time, but I knew I wanted dill), a nice baguette, some asian pears, muscadines, and a bag of shelled, young lima beans.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the lima beans, but I thought I might I find something. Instead of the Internet, this time my cookbooks turned up a winner. Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, (basically, The Joy of Cooking for those who don't eat meat), had a nice, basic recipe for beans (generic) in olive oil. The preparation assumed dried beans (boil with aromatics — a quartered onion, bay, shallots — until tender) and that step probably didn't add much to the fresh lima beans, but I did boil them until tender, I just don't think the aromatics had enough contact with the beans to lend any flavor.

The real recipe begins with the cooked lima beans, which are then tossed withIt's then served room temperature (or warmer) with a lemon wedge, which adds just the right flavor. The book recipe suggests diced shallot or green onion with the rest of the dressing, but we didn't have any and I could go either way about adding some next time. They turned out very nice, and I suspect we'll try the same basic recipe with frozen lima beans at some point when fresh ones aren't available.

For both dishes, I used the Spanish roja garlic we planted about this time last year. It has a great, assertive flavor.

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