CHEF JEFF: Beans ready for pickingWhen it gets really hot, I’m like a lot of other people. I don’t like to spend too much time in the kitchen. Even with air conditioning, it’s too hot to cook on the stove or in the oven.
When it gets really hot, I’m like a lot of other people. I don’t like to spend too much time in the kitchen. Even with air conditioning, it’s too hot to cook on the stove or in the oven.
Of course, cooking outdoors is an option. But if you live in an apartment where grills are forbidden, that’s out of the question. So, that leads a lot of people to dine out when it gets hot like this.
We like to do that, too. But when you have a big garden like Therese and I, there are a lot of good veggies available for things you can make that require little or no time to cook.
Finishing planting early, timely rains and warm temps have pushed our garden to the verge of exploding.
Actually, it already is at that point. I’ve never seen my tomato plants taller or harboring as much fruit at this point of the growing season. It will be a couple of weeks before we eat our first tomatoes, but we’ve already started to pick summer squash for our salads. And some of our broccoli is ready, too.
But what we’re really getting into now is beans, both yellow wax and green, which require little time to cook in some very delicious recipes. (My scarlet runners will take a bit longer, perhaps two weeks or so.)
The first foray into our bean patch yielded a nice bowl of pencil-thin beauties that went into a vegetable stir-fry (served with brown rice), while the second around they were just steamed and seasoned with salt and pepper and a little butter. (Beans also pair well with meats, seafood, new potatoes, shallots and herbs such as Italian parsley, chervil and tarragon.)
Nutritionally, beans are a good source of vitamins A and C, folic acid and fiber. They’re also extremely low in calories.
Picking beans is going to be a daily chore for the next couple of weeks, since they are heat lovers and prefer warm weather and soil, and we’re going to have plenty of that. But I really don’t mind it.
Recently, I’ve come across several new dishes for fresh garden beans that will be added to my recipe box, including one from a friend, Senora Almquist of rural Cummings, N.D.
Senora’s son, Brad, is the author of my newest green bean casserole recipe (Don’t we all have that one that contains cream of mushroom soup and french-fried onion rings and is a holiday favorite?)
It contains no carbohydrates or sugar and was derived from a dish Brad had a few years ago in London. It combines the beans with a can of Cheddar cheese soup, a little onion and garlic, ranch-flavored croutons and Parmesan cheese.
There’s nothing extreme about this recipe.
Bean growing tips
If you planted green or yellow wax beans this spring, here are a few tips to get the most out of them:
• Green beans need plenty of water when they begin to flower. About 1 inch of water per week is usually enough. During very hot weather, an additional half-inch of water will be helpful.
• To prevent the beans from drying out, add some mulch around the base of the plants.
• Avoid handling bean plants when the foliage is wet because doing so encourages plant disease.
• Pick green beans before the seeds swell in the pods, while they are tender. Continue harvesting daily if necessary. As soon as any pods are allowed to mature, the yield slows or stops altogether.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at email@example.com.