Archive for the 'side dishes' Category

Watermelon feta salad or soup

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Chilled watermelon soup

As you can see, Evan is particularly pleased with this simple watermelon dish. The baby version of watermelon salad turns into a creamy soup, which Evan found a bit strange at first. He tried to eat the soup off the spoon, and realized that was not the most convenient method of consumption. "Slurp, slurp", I said, as I fed him, making the noisiest slurping sounds that would be perfectly polite at a Japanese ramen house. "Hoo!", he giggled. The more he eats this soup, the more practice he gets at conveying liquids to his mouth with a spoon, rather than a bottle. He seems to find the result worthy of the effort.

The grownup version of this dish is a warm weather favorite. With its juicy sweetness, watermelon begs for the salty counterpoint of feta cheese. The salad is incomplete without fresh mint leaves and some grassy, peppery extra virgin olive oil. I like to top the salad with some Aleppo chili pepper flakes. The salad would pair nicely with a good chilled beer, I think, and is best consumed outside in the hot summer sun.

This is the third post in a series on making your own baby food. See the first and second posts here:on making baby food, what am I, chopped liver?.

watermelon feta salad

Leave out the chili flakes to make the baby-friendly version of this recipe (see below). You can always add the chili flakes later.

1 small or 1/2 large watermelon
1 8 oz/226 g package feta cheese, cubed
1 bunch fresh mint
black pepper
olive oil
Aleppo or other chili pepper flakes

  1. Cut the watermelon into large bite-sized cubed and place the fruit in a large bowl.
  2. Add the feta cubes to the bowl. The ratio of cheese to watermelon should be a little less than one to one.
  3. Rip 2-3 handfuls of mint into the bowl.
  4. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Sprinkle the chili flakes over the top.

Serves 4-6.

watermelon feta soup

  1. Follow the directions for preparing watermelon salad as shown above, skipping the last step.
  2. Remove a few chunks each of watermelon and feta cheese from the bowl, and place them in a coffee grinder.
  3. Add another mint leaf or two, if you like, and another drizzle of olive oil.
  4. Pulverize the salad in the coffee grinder. Correct seasoning with freshly ground black pepper and olive oil.
  5. Optionally, sprinkle in a dash of finely ground chili pepper such as cayenne or hot paprika.
  6. Store in a 4 oz/125 ml canning jar.

What am I, chopped liver?

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Evan eating puréed chopped liver.

I love chopped liver. It may not be pâté, or even pâté de campagne, but it’s still delicious when done right. The trick is to cook the livers just so, such that they’re still a bit juicy, and chop them by hand to retain some rustic texture. Liver is best fried in–what else?–duck fat. I keep a jar on hand in the fridge just in case.

Chopped liver is fairly easy to turn into baby food. Just leave out the herbs (in case they aren’t sufficiently pulverized), and add a little more duck fat if necessary for ease of pulverizing. Evan seemed to like it, as you can see in the photo.

Nota bene: This recipe has more than two ingredients, such as it is best made for older babies or babies with no known allergies to any of the main ingredients.

This is the second post in a series on making your own baby food. See the first post here.

chopped liver

duck fat for frying
1 1/2 lb/680 g chicken livers (or half beef liver)
5 medium shallots or 1 onion, finely chopped
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
salt, pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander seeds
balsamic vinegar
1 handful parsley
1 handful dill

  1. Heat the duck fat in a large, heavy skillet on a medium flame.
  2. With paper toweling, pat dry the livers and fry them until browned on both sides, but still moist. Fry in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan.
  3. Remove livers and place in a work bowl. Drain off any red liquid.
  4. Fry the shallots in the same fat until carmelized. Add more fat if necessary.
  5. Chop the livers and return them to the bowl. Toss with the onions.
  6. Use a plane cheese grater to grate the eggs into the liver mixture. Mix well, then season to taste with the spices and a dash of balsamic vinegar.
  7. Finely chop the herbs and mix into the chopped liver

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer.

chopped liver for infants

  • Follow the directions listed above, skipping the last step.
  • Scoop out 2-4 tablespoons of the chopped liver and pulverize in a coffee grinder. Correct seasoning and decant into a 4 oz/125 ml jar, pushing through a strainer, if necessary.

You can freeze the pulverized chopped liver for later use. Just make sure to leave enough room at the top for expansion during freezing. Defrost in the refrigerator, or by dunking in a shallow bowl of hot water.

tinkering with tubers: sweet potatoes done different

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I don’t often post my husband A’s recipes here, not because I don’t like them. On the contrary, A is a very creative cook who fearlessly combines spices, sauces, and ingredients like mixed media. Yemenite spice mix with Thai hot sauce and local butter? No problem. If it complements his main ingredient, A uses it.

The reason I don’t often post his recipes is that they’re so… well… off the cuff. Getting him to tell you what he’s put in his star dish is like herding cats, to use a dusty old metaphor.

For example:

“Man, A… these sweet potatoes are fantastic! Whadja put in ‘em? Butter, right?”
“Yes, butter. Also some hot sauce and coconut syrup.”
“And soy sauce, right?”
“Yes, just a little bit. And some salt. That’s it.”
“That’s it? Wow. Wait there’s some pepper in here too, right?”
“Oh right, yeah. Ground pepper.”
“Mmm… So how much coconut syrup?”
“Oh who knows. Just a little.”
“And hot sauce?”
“You know. A bit.”

One hour after dinner:

“Oh I forgot. I put in some baharat too.”
“Oh, baharat!”
“Yeah, and also some paprika.”

At this point, I’ve given up trying to figure out precise amounts. A has no idea himself. And I’m sure that tomorrow he’ll remember some other ingredient he’s forgotten to mention today. No matter. That’s part of the charm of his recipes—he enjoys tinkering and I enjoy the tasty results.

Here’s as close as I can get to a recipe for A‘s delicious sweet potatoes. They’re sweet and spicy with a little bit of heat, yet they’re also buttery and comforting. Do some tinkering of your own, and see what kind of kitchen alchemy you come up with.

a’s spicy sweet potatoes

butter
olive oil
sriracha hot sauce
coconut “thin sauce” (syrup) or molasses
splash of goji berry wine
a sprinkle of baharat spice mix
a sprinkle of paprika
salt and pepper to taste

  • Melt some butter and olive oil in a large enamel pot or pan on medium heat.
  • Coarsely chop 2 large sweet potatoes and soak them in water for a minute.
  • Drain the sweet potatoes and add them to the pan.
  • Stir and add spices and sauces.
  • Cover and cook for about 20 minutes.
  • Towards the end of cooking, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Correct seasoning and serve.

when you can’t have risotto…

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Make matzotto. Matzotto? Let me explain.

Last Saturday evening was the first night of Passover, that eight day festival of freedom during which observant Jews abstain from eating leavened baked goods. The prohibition extends to grains of all kinds, and for many Jews, certain legumes and seeds as well. This means no bread, pasta, oatmeal, and even popcorn, hummus, tofu, mustard. Homes are cleaned from top to bottom and kitchens turned inside out so that any stray crumbs are disposed of. Pots, pans, and dishes must be kashered or replaced with kitchenware specially reserved for the holiday. Household cooks must then prepare meals based on such varied carbohydrate sources as potatoes, potatoes, potatoes, and potatoes. (World Jewry heaved a collective sigh of relief a few years ago when quinoa was designated kosher for Passover. Quinoa is a new world seed rather than a grain, so rabbis have permitted its consumption on Passover.)

Aside from potatoes, many Jews traditionally prepare a variety of starchy side dishes using matzah, such as the famous matzah balls or kneidlach. These are light and fluffy soup dumplings that melt in your mouth when you eat them, in stark contrast to the matzah from which they are made.

As matzah is scarce this year, I bought a huge container of matzah farfel. Matzah farfel is bits of crumbled matzah, which is the cracker bread we Jews eat during the 8 days of the Passover holiday. To be precise, matzah as it is known in the Western world represents the Ashkenazi (European) Jewish tradition of baking flat, hard unseasoned cracker-like breads for Passover. The traditional matzah of Mizrahi Jews (Jews of the Levant or Middle East) on the other hand, is often a soft flatbread much like naan, which is much more fun to eat. It’s hard to make a matzah sandwich that doesn’t turn into a plateful of crispy, shard-like crumbs. If you’ve ever tried spreading cold butter on a slice of matzah, you know what I’m talking about. You may as well eat it with a spoon. I guess that’s where matzah farfel comes from. Matzah factories must have giant buckets full of inadvertently broken matzah which they process and sell as farfel. And there you have it. European Jewry’s answer to pasta for Passover.

In this recipe, I cooked matzah farfel risotto style, more or less. You can also use matzah farfel to make kugel, a traditional savory or sweet pudding served on Jewish holidays.

matzotto

butter and olive oil
1 cup matzah farfel or bits of broken matzah
1-2 handfuls dried mushrooms, soaked in hot water
handful of chopped parsley or other herbs
salt and pepper

  • Melt some butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the matzah farfel and stir to cover in butter and lightly toast until slightly golden. Add more butter or olive oil if the pan gets dry.
  • Remove mushrooms from from water and squeeze out any remaining moisture. Reserve the soaking water.
  • Coarsely chop mushrooms and add to farfel. Stir to cover in butter.
  • Add some of the mushroom water to farfel mixture and stir. As the farfel absorbs the mushroom water, add more and stir.
  • Taste as you go to get the consistency you prefer. Then season to taste with salt, pepper, and herbs.

Serves 2

Variations: Use smoked salt and/or smoked paprika. Add bits of smoked duck or goose. Use hot chicken stock to soak the mushrooms. Use whole wheat matzah farfel or spelt matzah farfel. Grate in some parmiggiano or pecorino.

Note: To keep the matzotto kosher, use either dairy or meat ingredients, but not both.

potatoes & whiskey

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

baby cabbages

A recently threw together a potato dish with cabbage and whiskey (Jack Daniels). It was actually on Saint Patrick’s Day, but only coincidentally. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The cabbage sweetened as it mingled with the booze, the potatoes were both slightly creamy yet still somewhat al dente.

The next day I had lunch at an English tea house where they served something quite similar called Rumbledethumps. They were good. But A’s version was better. Here it is.

potatoes and whiskey

I love these little baby cabbages. I think they might be a little sweeter than their big brothers, but who knows? Good old regular cabbage will do just fine for this dish. You could serve this with hot corned beef or lamb chops, or with some strong Cheddar, perhaps an Irish cheese if you want to keep to the Saint Patty’s theme. I think some sautéed greens would go well, maybe mustard greens or kale.

1-2 pounds small potatoes, halved
1 mini cabbage, chopped, or 1/4 of a small cabbage, chopped
seasonings, to taste:
salt & pepper
hawayij spice mix or your favorite curry powder
sumac
palm oil
butter
2 capfuls of your favorite whiskey

  • In a pot on a medium flame, melt the butter with the palm oil.
  • Add the potatoes, and stir.
  • Season to taste with spices.
  • Sprinkle in whiskey and let the mixture cook for 5 minutes.
    Then add the chopped cabbage.
  • Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Sprinkle in water if potatoes look dry.

Serves 2-3

feast of the chanterelles

Monday, March 26th, 2007

It’s not every day a half pound of freshly foraged chanterelle mushrooms just falls into your lap. Taking them out of their paper bag when I got home, I picked up a large mushroom and inhaled its heady earthiness. It smelled of wet leaves and dirt on the forest floor. I wanted to cook the mushrooms in so many ways, it was hard to settle on just a few dishes.

chanterelles and cheese

Following the advice of the chef (the guy who was buying the mushrooms from the forager), I made an appetizer by slicing a wedge of brie lengthwise and using it to sandwich thin slices of fresh chanterelle. I used Fromager d’Affinois, but any brie would work. (Odd, isn’t it, that the cheese is called “Cheesemonger of Affinois”?) The brie went into a small, well-buttered ramekin and baked in a 350° F oven for about 15 minutes.

I also experimented with some delicious French Munster cheese. I thinly sliced a very small cored apple, and placed some slices a the bottom of a well-buttered ramekin. Smeared some cheese on the apples, placed thin slices of chanterelle on the cheese, then more apples, and so on. I baked this in the oven along with the other ramekin for the same time period.

We ate these on their own after they had cooled down a bit. But I think they’d be even better on toast.

chanterelle crusted puréed potatoes

First, I chopped the mushrooms, slightly bigger than a dice. I chopped half an onion, but a couple of shallots would have been better (per the chef’s recommendations). I sautéed the onions in butter, then added the mushrooms, s and p to taste, and finished it off with some good Madeira wine.

I made an ordinary dish of puréed potatoes, using sour cream instead of milk or cream. After it had cooled somewhat, I added two small beaten eggs and mixed well. The pureed potatoes went into a medium-sized, buttered souffle dish. Then I topped the potatoes with a thin layer of the chanterelle-onion mixture. The crusted puree baked for about 40 minutes at 350° F.

The earthy chanterelles perfectly complemented the potato purée. I particularly enjoyed the contrasting textures of succulent mushrooms on a bed of pillowy potato.

veggies

I served the classic cabbage and apples with onions cooked in butter, with a splash of Madeira. I also prepared steamed, buttered stinging nettles.

chanterelle-stuffed pork loin

I used the rest of the chanterelle-onion mixture to stuff the pork loin. I had two large individual pork loins (serves 2 hungry people), but it would be easier to stuff one large loin. Luckily, the butcher had supplied me with sufficient string to secure the loins. I poked back any bits of mushroom that fell out as I stuffed the loins.

The loins were browned in butter on both sides in a hot cast-iron skillet. Then into the oven they went (350° F).

Following cooking, I deglazed the pan with more Madeira and a little butter and spooned a few drops of sauce on each loin. This was really a no-brainer—pork + chanterelles + Madeira wine = pleasure.

Serves 2, along with a glass each of Madeira wine

flowering bok choy

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

The rain is back. It’s been crisp and sunny lately, almost t-shirt weather—not quite cold but not too hot either. Just the other day I saw some geese waddling around the pond near my work. A cozy duck couple have been sunbathing on the grass, napping lazily with their bills tucked into their wings. This morning the sky was drab as a Soviet era apartment building. And asphalt looks so depressing when it’s wet.

I wonder if this weather means no more green garlic at the market? Fewer pastured eggs? Less flavorful goat cheese? Just as I had begun to crave salads and cool watermelon with feta cheese, must I turn my appetite back to hot soups and heavy stews? While Nature vacillates between renewal and hibernation, the natural world can’t decide whether to bloom or go back to sleep for the winter. It’s enough to force a person to eat bread and water in utter seasonal confusion.

But a person cannot live on bread alone. And if this damn weather keeps harking back to winter, what can you do but create your own spring?

bok choy flowers with grapefruit jewels

At the farmers market, I came across tiny little bok choy greens crowned by tinier butter-yellow flowers. The crisp greens are the backdrop to bittersweet, soft fillets of oro blanco grapefruit, which in turn, cut the plump creaminess of the avocado pieces. Candied almonds bring it all together with their sweet crunch. The tiny bok choy buds bring spring indoors, even if the weather says otherwise. The pale gold grapefruit segments are jewels of sunlight shimmering through leafy bok choy branches.

3 handfuls flowering bok choy or other mild greens, coarsely chopped
1 oro blanco grapefruit or small pomelo, filleted
1/2-3/4 of an avocado
olive oil
salt and pepper
mandarin orange roasted almonds, or other candied almonds

  • In a large bowl, combine the bok choy with the grapefruit.
  • Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit.
  • Make lengthwise cuts in the avocado, cutting down to but not through the skin.
  • Make two crosswise cuts in the avocado, cutting the lengthwise slices into thirds.
  • Turn the skin of the avocado inside out and push out the slices with your finger or the end of your knife.
  • Combine the avocado with the greens and fruit.
  • Pour over olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper, toss to combine.
  • Plate and garnish with candied almonds.

Serves 2-3

who put the latkes in harry truman’s gatkes?

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Celeriac carrot latkes

Every Hannukah, my tone-deaf father who sang “in the key of R” would sing “Who put the latkes in Harry Truman’s gatkes?” No, that’s not the name of a song. It’s just a silly phrase that he’d sing intermittently, while preparing the holiday dinner. I have no idea who put potato pancakes in Harry Truman’s underwear, or why, for that matter.

Last night I finally girded my loins to make our first Hannukah dinner for this year. I’ll be making potato pancakes on Friday for a holiday party, so I wanted to make something a little bit different. Hannukah is all about fried foods, potatoes just happen to taste good when fried. So I opted for celeriac carrot pancakes.

These are a little trickier than potato pancakes, as the celeriac and carrots lack the potato starch that helps bind together traditional latke batter. As long as you squeeze out any excess water and fry them at a fairly high heat, these fritters should come out crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. You could use avocado or safflower oils coconut oil or schmaltz for frying, as these fats tend to have a high smoking point (see note below). I used bacon fat to fry the majority of my latkes. It’s cheaper and imparts a subtle smokey flavor to the fritters. Be sure to turn on your kitchen fan to drive out the greasy bacon odors. (The noise of the fan also helps drown out the sound of your Jewish ancestors turning over in their graves.)

The flavor of these pancakes is both sweet and earthy, with a touch of the metallic sharpness of celeriac. Apple sauce is redundant here, the carrots are sweet enough. A little sour cream, crème fraîche, or yogurt are fine toppings. A mixed holiday genres by topping his with cranberry sauce. I prefer sour cream.

carrot celeriac latkes

300 grams celeriac, washed, peeled, and trimmed
300 grams carrots, washed and trimmed (don’t bother peeling)
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
3 eggs, beaten
a scant pouring of matzah meal, just a tablespoon or two
about 1-2 TBS freshly minced dill
about 1 scant TBS salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
fat for frying (choose a fat with a high smoking point, such as grapeseed oil, coconut oil, or rendered animal fat such as schmaltz or, ahem, bacon fat)

  • Cut the vegetables to fit the chute of your food processor, and process using the grater attachment. If you’ve got time and want to work out your biceps, grate the vegetables manually. Alternate between celeriac, onion, and carrot (the onion prevents the celeriac from oxidizing).
  • Mix in the beaten eggs. Add a little matzah meal if the batter looks like it needs help keeping together.
  • Season with dill, salt, and pepper and mix well.
  • Heat your fat in a heavy frying pan on a medium-high flame (I like cast-iron). Optionally, heat fat in two large pans to more efficiently cook all the latkes.
  • When the fat is very hot, place a large soup spoonful of batter in the pan and flatten the batter with the back of the spoon. You want a very thin fritter that just keeps together. Repeat until the pan is full. You want some space between each latke, and you don’t want to crowd the pan. Depending on the size of your pan, you’ll probably be able to fry two to four latkes in each pan.
  • When the latkes turn brown at the edges, turn them over with a spatula. Fry until the other side is browned.
  • Taste the first batch of latkes. Correct the seasoning if necessary.
  • Fry the rest of the batter, allowing the latkes drain on some paper towel.
  • As you fry, monitor the heat of the frying pan. You may need to adjust the heat slightly, up or down, as you go along. If the latkes are too brown, you may need to turn the heat down a little. If they take too long to cook and aren’t crisp, you may need to turn the heat up. Be sure to melt more fat in the pan between batches. Then allow enough time for the fat to heat up.

Serve with sour cream or crème fraîche with a bit of dill for garnish, and optionally, a slice or two of gravadlax.

Serves 2-4

Note: Check out this page for a list of oils and their smoking points. Avocado and safflower oils have the highest smoking point.

dishes of comfort: kashe varnishkes

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

kashe_varnishkes

This is my post for the Dishes of Comfort blogging event, hosted by Cream Puffs in Venice and Viaggi & Sapori.

One of my favorite foods growing up was kashe varnishkes, an Eastern European Jewish side dish full of carbs and mushrooms. As a child, I enjoyed nothing more than a bowl of steaming, sticky white rice, a slice of crusty bread or challah, or a bowl of pasta, hot or cold, with olive oil and salt. I was, and still am, enthralled by the texture, flavor, and the soulful satisfying nature of carbs.

Kashe varnishkes, however, stands apart. A combination of pasta, buckwheat, and mushrooms, kashe varnishkes is the Eastern European answer to Egyptian kushari and Yemeni majadra. The unique pleasure of Kashe varnishkes lies in its combination of nutty, tender buckwheat kernels, with earthy, juicy mushrooms, along with al dente pasta. Kashe varnishkes is pleasantly toothsome, yet very warming on a cold night.

Kashe varnishkes is one of the few dishes that my mother learned to cook from her Eastern European mother. Back in pre-WWII Europe, my great-grandmother enforced the rule that the kitchen was no place for children. Consequently, my grandmother didn’t learn much in the way of cooking, and my mother was often shooed from her mother’s little kitchen in Israel. Kashe varnishkes was one of the few dishes that survived the broken chain of culinary tradition, along with gorgul morgul—a peculiar yet tasty concoction made of egg yolk, lemon juice, and honey—which was meant to soothe a sore throat.

My mother would prepare kashe varnishkes as a treat for a Friday night Sabbath dinner, perhaps with chicken and salad or broccoli. I loved the steaming kernels of toasted buckwheat as much as I loved the big, chewy pasta bowties that poked through the mound of grain. The mushrooms were little buried treasures that exploded with earthy flavor in my mouth.

On Saturday afternoons when everyone napped, I would tiptoe to the refrigerator and fix myself a bowl of leftover kashe varnishkes. They were cold, and I couldn’t reheat them on the Sabbath, but I didn’t care. I would correct the seasoning with salt and perhaps a little pepper. Satisfied, I would take the bowl and a soup spoon and go to the living room, where I would choose an interesting book from my father’s extensive library. Maybe Jonathan Swift, or Dickens, perhaps Aldous Huxley. I’d climb into the big leather Eames chair and cross my legs Indian style. I’d pick up the book and cradle the bowl in my lap. As I disappeared into the universe of my book, I’d dig in my spoon and take a big, luscious bite.

kashe varnishkes

butter
150-200 gr pasta, preferably bowtie (I used fettuccine, which I broke into large-ish bite-size pieces)
3/4 c buckwheat, toasted
1/3 lb mushrooms (I used shitakes and chanterelles)
salt and pepper to taste

  • Cook the pasta as you usually would, rinse it to stop it from cooking.
  • In a large skillet, melt a little butter and fry the buckwheat until fragrant.
  • Add one cup of water to the buckwheat and bring to a boil. Then lower to a simmer and cover.
  • Meanwile, slice the mushrooms and fry them in a skillet with butter.
  • Season the mushrooms to taste with salt and pepper.
  • After a few minutes of simmering, check to see whether the buckwheat needs more water. If it looks dry and isn’t yet tender, add a little more water. You want to add just enough water to keep the buckwheat from drying out. The goal here is tender, yet slightly firm buckwheat, as opposed to buckwheat mush. Towards the end of cooking, remove the cover so that excess liquid evaporates. If a little buckwheat sticks to the pan, do not scrape it up.
  • Season the buckwheat with salt and pepper to taste, bearing in mind that you’ve already seasoned the mushrooms.
  • Combine the pasta, mushrooms, and buckwheat and correct seasoning. Serve at room temperature or briefly reheat in a pan.

Serves 3-4

green beans and strawberries

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

green_bean_strawberry

I tried, I really did. I just couldn’t get a good photo of this evening’s side dish. So for your amusement, I’ve created a stylized (*ahem*) rendition of a green bean with a strawberry. They look rather happy together, don’t they? Each in its own lopsided way.

What’s a green bean got to do with a strawberry, you may ask? The truth is, I have no idea. I just needed something to lend a little chutzpah to the skinny, sedate French beans I served with supper. I spotted the basket of forgotten strawberries from the corner of my eye and thought “yeah, that’ll do.” It did indeed. I’d forgotten how wonderful strawberries taste with freshly ground black pepper. They’re also a soft, juicy contrast to turgidly crunchy beans.

This is one of those non-recipes that’s too simple to really be a recipe. The only rule is to try to balance the green beans with the strawberries. A ratio of two to one is about right, I think.

green beans and strawberries

1 bunch green beans, washed and trimmed
strawberries
olive oil to taste
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place a large sauté pan or skillet on a medium flame and toss a bunch of green beans into it.
  2. While the green beans are cooking, rinse and trim some strawberries and slice them in half. Then slice the halves into thick matchsticks.
  3. Toss the green beans around periodically, and cook until they just turn a bright shade of green.
  4. Transfer the beans to a large bowl, combine with strawberries.
  5. Drizzle with good olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Taste and correct seasoning. If you’d like the salad to be sweeter, add more strawberries.

Variations:

  • Dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • Instead of freshly ground black pepper, use freshly cracked black pepper for more pronounced heat and black pepper flavor.
  • Try shaving or grating some parmigiano-reggiano on top.
  • Crumble some good quality freshly fried bacon on top.
  • Serve with prosciutto.
  • Deconstruct the dish by cooking the strawberries separately with balsamic vinegar and reducing them to a sauce. Season liberally with cracked or ground black pepper. Spoon the hot or cold sauce over the green beans. (This is the most peculiar, yet intriguing suggestion I could think of. If anyone tries it, do let me know how it turns out.)
  • Reduce the green beans to a sauce, and spoon it over the cold strawberries. Just kidding.
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