This fresh summer salad was inspired by something I had at one of my favorite restaurants, Barbrix. The original dish was made with green and yellow beans tossed in a light vinaigrette and topped with delicious grilled octopus. While I don’t usually make octopus at home, their preparation of green beans really inspired me to work them back into my dietary routine. So when I saw Chinese long beans at the market I knew just what to do with them.
I used to work at the farmers’ market where people would marvel at the Chinese long beans, asking what in the world they were and how on earth they were supposed to cook them. Being that they are essentially long green beans my answer was simply to cook them any way that you like to cook green beans. This response would then make people wonder, well then, why favor one over the other? Long beans are much more tender and sweet and not quite as waxy as green beans, they also take a slightly shorter time to cook.
Of course you can simply sautee long beans up with some garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil. This is typically how they are served in Chinese restaurants. But somehow I have grown quite bored of this preparation. I guess it’s partly because I don’t like over cooked green beans, and blanching them like I do in this recipe keeps a bit of a crunch in them. Also, because I commonly sautee other green veggies with oil and garlic, it’s nice to get some variety by mixing up these long beans with some fresh tomato and radish, dressed with a tangy mustard vinaigrette.
Long Bean and Heirloom Tomato Summer Salad 3/4 lb Chinese long beans (or green beans) 1/2 lb mini heirloom tomatoes 2 medium radishes 2 tbsp pine nuts 2 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp brown mustard 1 tbsp lemon juice 1/2 tsp sea salt a few leaves of fresh basil
Wash and trim your long beans, removing the rough stems and any dried out ends. Chop them into roughly 3 inch pieces. If you can’t find long beans then you can use green beans. just trim the ends and cut in half, prepare them otherwise the same.
Fill a medium-sized pot with water and bring to a boil. In order to blanch your long beans you’ll need to toss your cut beans into the boiling water for 1-2 minutes to let boil on medium-high heat until they are a bright green color and are slightly tender in texture. While they are boiling fill a bowl with ice and water. When your beans are cooked ladle them with a slotted spoon into the ice water bath to halt cooking. Make sure to mix them in thoroughly and add more ice as needed so there are no hot pockets that will continue to cook the beans. Once cooled, drain the long beans and remove any ice cubes. Dry your long beans off on a towel or paper towel for a few minutes so they do not water down the vinaigrette.
It’s a good idea to roast the pine nuts now, so they’ll have time to cool off. Add the pine nuts to a small, dry frying pan and roast on medium heat. It should only take 3-5 minutes, toss as you go so they don’t stick or burn. You should be able to smell them roasting as the oils heat up. Once they are slightly brown pull them off the heat and remove them from the pan to cool. Now let’s get that vinaigrette started. Whisk together the olive oil and brown mustard, you can really use any mustard you have on hand it will help the oil to emulsify with the lemon juice. Once mixed, whisk in the lemon juice, salt, and minced basil leaves. The consistency should be even.
Rinse your heirloom tomatoes and cut in half. Rinse your radishes and slice thinly, removing the stem and the root. Gently toss the long beans, tomatoes and radishes in the mustard vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts, some coarse finishing salt and fresh cracked pepper. It’s best fresh but also does well as a left over. Enjoy!
Yields about 4 servings as a side
For those of you who try to eat organic as much as possible, would you be surprised if I said you don’t always have to?
Every year the Environmental Working Group tests a wide variety of conventionally grown (non-organic) produce for levels of pesticides. They publish their findings in a Shopper’s Guide as well as boiling them down to two easy-to-understand lists: the Dirty Dozen (highest levels of pesticides) and Clean Fifteen (lowest levels.) The Clean Fifteen can help us all to save a few dollars by buying conventional when we can and the Dirty Dozen is a helpful reminder of which foods are the most important to buy organic. Most recently that original dozen has expanded a bit to 15, but Dirty Fifteen just isn’t as catchy.
I can’t seem to keep track of all of these, so don’t feel bad if you can’t either! I mean, potatoes should be organic but sweet potatoes don’t have to be? It’s hard to keep it all straight. Save yourself a headache and just bookmark this page or pin the image to return to later while shopping.
I make roasted chicken all the time, usually once a week. It is one of the simplest and most economical way of cooking chicken since it makes enough for dinner plus leftovers, and I can use the bones to make a batch of broth. I get locally pasture-raised poultry from La Bahn Ranch at the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market on Sundays.
It never occurred to me to post this recipe on the blog because I thought of it as too simple. That was until my friend Heather recently asked me for a good roasted chicken recipe and I realized that it took me a long time to get the recipe just right. No need to suffer through dry or flavorless roasted chicken if you’ve never cooked it before, just follow these few simple steps and you’ll love the results.
First things first you need to get the spices you’ll be using together. I used the mixture listed above, but you can use any variation that works for you. I also often use sweet smoked paprika, dried dill, or ground coriander. If you’re not familiar with the flavor profile of different spices or don’t have many on hand then you can just use salt and pepper, just don’t use much more than 1 tsp of either in your mix.
Take your chicken out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before roasting so it can come up to room temperature, this helps the meat to cook more evenly. A heavy-bottomed pan is best for roasting, I use a Le Creuset and find it works best, but you can also use a roasting pan or ceramic casserole dish if that’s all you have on hand. Preheat the oven to 375F.
Line the bottom of your pan with thick yellow onion slices so the chicken skin doesn’t stick. Wash the chicken before putting it into the pan, also remove any giblets from inside (I use them in making broth.)
Drizzle the chicken with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle on your spice rub evenly. Start with the front of the chicken, then flip over and cover the back, and save just a little bit of the rub. This way, the chicken starts roasting with the backside up, where most of the fat is. As it cooks and the fat renders it drips down to the breast meat and keeps it very moist and tender.
Roast for 90 minutes at 375F and flip it over halfway through so the skin on the front of the chicken gets a chance to get brown and crispy. When you flip it, use that last bit of rub you saved to sprinkle over the front.
Let the chicken cool for at least 10 minutes before carving up, this will allow the juices to settle into the meat without running all over your cutting board. Serve with those cooked onions, they taste delicious! And definitely use the drippings in the pan however you can, it is a great base for making a sauce or soup. Enjoy!
I’ve been wanting to experiment with making my own popsicles for long time now but never had proper molds, until my birthday a few months ago. Not only was I gifted 18 popsicle molds but also an amazing book on how to make them using fresh seasonal produce, called People’s Pops.
To jump right in I decided to start with 2 different strawberry flavors. Yes, mainly because I love fresh strawberries, but also because I’ve found that while you can find strawberries at the farmers’ markets in LA most of the year, they really peak in the spring and early summer.
I was particularly inspired to feature strawberries when I laid my eyes on some beautiful rhubarb from Jimenez Family Farm at the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market this past Sunday. Rhubarb is a strawberry’s best friend, most likely because of their famous combination in strawberry rhubarb pie. The tartness of the rhubarb and delicate texture goes so nicely with the subtle acid of the strawberries.
I cannot tell you how hard it is to find rhubarb at the markets here in southern California. Having worked at markets for over 3 years I would get countless customers pleading with me to tell them where they could find it, or more often, confidently confusing red Swiss chard for the fresh rhubarb they wish it was.
The other famous combination I wanted to toy with was strawberries with balsamic vinegar. It’s classic in Italian cuisine and a combo I became particularly obsessed with last summer when I tried Heidi Swanson’s Roasted Strawberries recipe, which pairs the two along with some maple syrup, olive oil, sea salt, and port wine.
It saves heaps of prep and clean up time when you make these recipes together and would work great for a big group of people – maybe a pool party or a barbeque? But they are also a nice simple dessert to be enjoyed outside while it’s still a bit sunny after dinner. Mix up a batch of your own and let me know how it goes! I’ll be trying out new pop recipes all summer long…
[Making Simple Syrup: the basic recipe for simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water, if you add 2/3rd cup water with 2/3rd cup sugar that should make about 1 cup of simple syprup. Add the water and sugar to a sauce pan and heat very gently just to dissolve the sugar, not to boil or cook down. It’s a good idea to make a big batch to have on hand if you’re making several popsicles, but keep any unused simple syrup in the fridge. The book recommends using organic cane sugar (aka: dehydrated cane syrup,) so that’s what I used. But I do plan on experimenting with honey, maple syrup and maybe even coconut sugar in the future.]
Once the rhubarb is prepped, add about 1/2 inch of water into a heavy non-reactive pan (I used my ceramic coated Le Creuset) and heat up on high. Add in the rhubarb and let cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until some of the liquid has cooked off and the rhubarb has become soft. With the spoon, break up any larger pieces of rhubarb and remove any that seem to be too tough or stringy. Once done cooking this should yield 1 cup of rhubarb puree.
The strawberries on the other hand do not get cooked, as it breaks them down too much and makes them lose their fresh flavor. Once hulled they are simply pureed in a food processor. The same technique is used for the second recipe, so I pureed a big batch of strawberries all at once. You’ll need 1 cup of strawberry puree for this recipe.
Mix together the rhubarb puree, strawberry puree, simple syrup and lemon juice in a large bowl with a pouring spout. Portion the mixture into your popsicle molds and freeze.
The final flavor of these pops just scream springtime to me, so fresh, light and the perfect combination of sweet and tart. Who needs a pie when you can have a pop!
Makes 10 pops
Even simpler than the above recipe, this one only requires pureeing the strawberries, then mixing all the ingredients together. For the amount of strawberries called for in this recipe it should make about 2 cups of puree. As I said above, you can make the strawberry puree for both recipes all at once.
Once the strawberry puree is ready, mix it together with the simple syrup and lemon juice. The balsamic vinegar should be added in slowly while you continually taste the mixture, this is because each vinegar isn’t equally as pungent. I found I preferred just a bit more vinegar than suggested.
Pour the mixture into your molds and freeze well.
I just love the final result of this recipe. While it’s a very simple strawberry recipe, the balsamic vinegar brings out such complex flavors with almost a savoriness.
Makes 10 pops
If you are enjoying a Memorial Day BBQ today but can’t drink alcohol then be sure to check out my latest post over at MamaFloat for some tasty summertime mocktail recipes! I show you how to make your own vinegar-based syrup known as shrub, as well as healthy takes on a mojito and piña colada.
Enjoy with friends and happy Memorial Day everyone!