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Green Beans

Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes, Green Beans

By Barbara Beltrami

Now is the time to capitalize on summer’s bounty of veggies and herbs, and what better way to do that than to use them in pasta sauces. This is the time of year for a Pasta Norma with tomatoes, eggplant and ricotta salata, a pasta with pesto, potatoes and green beans or pasta with grilled veggies. Any of these can be a first course served in smallish portions, a light summer entree or accompaniment to whatever is on the barbecue. Don’t skimp on the veggies and don’t hesitate to change up any of these recipes to accommodate the day’s harvest from your or your neighbor’s garden or the farm stand.

Pasta Norma

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, diced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 pound eggplant, peeled and diced

1 pound fusilli or cavatappi

1 large sprig fresh basil, leaves chopped

6 ounces ricotta salata, diced

DIRECTIONS:

In a large skillet over medium high heat, warm oil and whole garlic clove about one minute. As soon as the garlic begins to release its aroma, add tomatoes, salt and pepper; cook about 10 minutes, until liquid from tomatoes has evaporated, then add eggplant to pan, cover and cook about 15 minutes over medium heat, until eggplant is tender. Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions; when pasta is almost ready, add basil to tomatoes and eggplant and stir; remove and discard garlic. Drain pasta and transfer to serving bowl; toss with sauce and ricotta salata and serve with a slightly chilled nero d’avola wine.

Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes, Green Beans

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

2 cups basil leaves, firmly packed

1/3 cup pignoli nuts

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 – 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1 pound linguine or fettuccine

1/2 pound potatoes, peeled, cooked, diced

1/4 pound fresh green beans, cut into 1” lengths and cooked until tender

DIRECTIONS:

In bowl of electric food processor combine basil, pignoli nuts, salt, pepper and garlic until mixture achieves a coarse grainy texture; with motor running add oil in a slow steady stream, then add cheese and process just enough to mix thoroughly. Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s directions; drain and reserve about half a cup — one cup of the cooking water; transfer pasta to serving bowl, add pesto, then add reserved water, a little at a time, until sauce is a thick liquid but not runny, toss to thoroughly coat, then add potatoes and beans and toss again before serving.

Ziti with Grilled Vegetables

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

2 medium zucchini cut lengthwise into thirds

2 bell peppers, seeded, cored, quartered

1 large red or Vidalia onion, cut crosswise into half inch slices

8-10 plum tomatoes, halved

Olive oil for brushing

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 pound ziti or penne

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup minced mixed fresh basil, oregano and thyme

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese

DIRECTIONS:

On a large rimmed baking sheet arrange the zucchini, peppers, onion and tomatoes; brush on both sides with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Preheat grill to medium, then arrange veggies on it, cover and cook, turning once, until tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side; cut veggies into bite-size pieces and set aside to keep warm. Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s directions, drain and place in large serving bowl; toss with veggies and herbs, then sprinkle with crumbled cheese and toss lightly before serving.

Asian Style Green Beans. METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

If you think this column is going to be about that ubiquitous traditional casserole made with green beans, cream of mushroom soup and French fried onion rings, it’s not. It’s going to be about fresh green beans, aka string beans, young and slender and just off the vine because green beans, like so many other veggies, just taste so different, so much better when they’re fresh picked, and now is the season to take advantage of that. 

You can make them part of a Ligurian pasta dish with potatoes and basil or you can just douse them with lemon juice and olive oil or toss them into a salade Nicoise. You can do the old standby, green beans almandine, or an Asian stir-fry. Or you can try them sautéed with cherry tomatoes, or with hazelnuts and citrus zest or dipped in batter and fried, or even left raw and dunked in your favorite dip.

Pasta with Pesto, Green Beans and Potatoes

YIELD: Makes 8 servings as first course, 4 servings as main course.

INGREDIENTS: 

2 1/3 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup pignoli nuts

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup or more extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup or more freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into one-inch lengths

1 pound spaghetti or linguine

DIRECTIONS:

In the bowl of an electric food processor, combine the basil, pignoli nuts, garlic, oil, cheese, and salt and pepper; process, scraping bowl often, until a smooth consistency is achieved. To a large pot of boiling salted water add the potatoes and cook until they are not quite al dente, about 5 to 8 minutes; add green beans and continue cooking until potatoes are tender and beans are bright green and tender, about another 5 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove potatoes and beans and set aside to keep warm; when potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into one-inch cubes. To the potato and green bean water add the pasta and cook according to package directions; drain, transfer to large bowl, add vegetables and pesto and toss to coat thoroughly.  (If mixture seems too dry, add a little of the cooking water to it.) Serve hot with a tomato and onion salad.

Asian Style Green Beans

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter

1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons peanut oil 

2 tablespoons chopped shallot

2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger root

1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons sliced scallions

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, peanut butter and hot pepper flakes. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat, then add shallot and ginger and, stirring frequently, saute about two minutes, until tender and a little crisp; add green beans and stirring frequently, saute until al dente; add sauce, toss to coat thoroughly, top with scallions and cilantro and serve hot with grilled fish and rice.

Beer Batter-Fried Green Beans

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 cup beer

1 cup flour

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Vegetable oil for frying

1 pound green beans, trimmed

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the beer, flour, salt ad pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat to 375 F. When oil is ready, dip the beans in the batter, let excess oil drip off, then being careful to avoid getting spattered, gently drop the beans into the oil; fry in batches, and when they are golden brown and crisp, after about 5 to 8 minutes, with a slotted spoon remove them to drain on paper towels. Serve hot or warm with margaritas or dry white wine.

Green beans are in season on Long Island from July to September. Stock photo

By Barbara Beltrami

Green beans, string beans, snap beans —  What’s in a name? They’re all pretty much the same thing; a favorite, as veggies go, among many people, and unlike some other veggies, seldom considered “yucky.” At this time of year, they abound in bushel baskets at farm stands, green thatches of long and slender and crisp vegetable freshness. Trimmed and lightly steamed just to the point of tenderness where they still retain their greenness, they make a fine side dish on their own dressed with lemon or butter, or as a tasty component of salads, soups, casseroles, pasta or potato dishes.

So here’s what you need to do. Go to a farm stand, carefully pick out a bunch of skinny unblemished beans, take them home, sit yourself down near a fan or an AC vent, put a bowl in your lap, and with a little knife or your thumbnail, remove the brownish stem ends of the beans, then cut or snap them to desired size (I like to leave them whole). Here are some recipes to get you started.

Green Bean and Potato Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette

This is almost but not quite a salade nicoise.

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed and coarsely chopped

1 pound skinny green beans, stem end removed

2 garlic cloves, smashed into a paste

1 tablespoon anchovy paste

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained and chopped

2 teaspoons prepared Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large handfuls baby arugula

4 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced

2 ripe garden fresh tomatoes, sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

DIRECTIONS:

In a large saucepan, boil the potatoes in salted water until just tender; remove from water, let sit until cool enough to handle , then cut into thin slices or dice. Simultaneously, in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer, salt the green beans to taste and cook over boiling water until tender but still bright green. Immediately remove and place in bowl of ice water for 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, anchovy paste, capers, mustard, vinegar and olive oil. When ready to serve, arrange arugula on a serving plate, toss the potatoes and beans with the vinaigrette and pile on top of the arugula. Arrange sliced or diced eggs and tomatoes on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper; garnish with chopped herbs. Serve warm or at room temperature with a chilled dry white wine, crusty French bread and unsalted butter.

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions

This combination of green beans and onions is a far cry from that old recipe made with canned onions and cream of mushroom soup.

YIELD: Makes 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large Vidalia or red onions, peeled and cut into rings

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

½ tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 pounds fresh skinny green beans, trimmed and steamed or boiled till tender but still bright green

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the butter and oil in medium skillet over medium heat; add onions, turn heat up to medium-high, and cook onions, stirring frequently, until light golden; add thyme, brown sugar and vinegar and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until onions are a rich medium dark brown. Place string beans in a serving bowl and top with caramelized onions. Serve warm or hot with poultry or meat.

Green Beans with Bacon and Balsamic

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and cooked till tender but bright green

½ pound bacon, cooked till crispy and crumbled

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon bacon fat

1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large serving bowl toss the beans and bacon. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, bacon fat, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Half an hour before serving, toss the string bean mixture with oil mixture; tossing a few more times, let sit for at least half an hour. Serve at room temperature or warm with pork or poultry or as a main dish.

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Radishes only take 30 days to mature so you can easily plant them for at least another month. Stock photo

By Ellen Barcel

Just because we’re so far into summer, you don’t have to make the assumption that the season is over for growing vegetables. There are many you can plant by mid-August that will mature by Long Island’s earliest frost date — early November — unless you have a microclimate in your area that is much colder than the rest of the island. There are even veggies that you can start growing as late as mid-September.

The rule of thumb for fall planting is to look up the maturity date of the plants you wish to grow — 30 days, for example, for radishes. Then count backward. The last date you can plant radishes then would be the end of September or the very beginning of October. To be on the safe side, figure the middle of September, instead. Always check the package maturity date because different varieties can vary tremendously. Early varieties of beets can mature by 50 days while later varieties can take up to 80 days; early carrots 60 days while later ones up to 85.

Veggies that you can plant in mid-August include bush beans (early varieties mature in 45 days, late varieties in 65 days), early cabbage (60 days), cucumbers (60 days), mustard greens (40 days),  peas (60 days), spinach (40 days) and turnips (40 days). Early carrots (50 days), kohlrabi (45 to 60 days) and leaf lettuce (40 to 50 days).

Some varieties of beans will mature in just 45 days. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Some varieties of beans will mature in just 45 days. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Remember that all of the above are averages. An unusually hot September may affect your veggies negatively. An unusually early frost may do the same thing. But, this is what farmers from way back have had to contend with.  You plant based on the averages but Mother Nature may have other plans.

The Year Without a Summer, 1816, was called that because there was frost in every one of the 12 months of the year. The eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, spewing ash into the atmosphere and blocking the sun the year before, is credited with this phenomenon. But, we don’t need a drastic event to affect our garden. We gardeners know the damage to our plants caused by the cold and snow of the last two winters.

On the other hand, frost could be late. I remember a few years ago, putting out my Christmas wreath next to the geraniums, which were not only alive but still blooming.

So, go ahead and plant a late season vegetable garden and cross your fingers that Mother Nature cooperates to give you a bountiful fall harvest.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.