Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mixed Summer Beans with Shallots and Pistachios

I spent the last four days at my parents house up by Yosemite and while there I went to the farmers market down in Fresno. Kind of old stomping grounds, I use to shop there for a restaurant I worked for about 5 years ago. All the same farmers and all the same great produce. I love my farmers market here in SLO, but the Fresno one does have some extras that we do not have (just yet anyway). Being so hot in the valley, the Fresno farmers market was overflowing with summer produce. Lots of tomatoes, all kinds of summer beans, okra, eggplants, basil, corn, and my favorite, watermelon (I bought one and it was delicious!). Many kinds of stone fruit including peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, and apricots. Lots of berries too. Because it is so hot, the Fresno market does not have many of the items we have year round such as carrots, beets, broccoli, and greens (there were some greens, but they were quite shabby looking), so the SLO market does have an edge. There is a wonderful organic stand at the Fresno market that sells specialty Italian varieties of produce. I bought some terrific basil, Trumpet squash, and red torpedo onions. At another stand I bought the theme of today's recipe; mixed summer beans. I purchased Romano, yellow wax, and green beans. I plan on going back this Saturday since I will be in the area again for 4th of July. I will admit, I LOVE the heat and miss it during the summer months. I love Cayucos, but it is a little cold for me.

This recipe is delicious and quite beautiful. If you happen to see Royal Burgundy beans in addition to green beans and yellow wax, buy them. They will lose a little color once cooked, but they are still gorgeous. The fresh herbs in this recipe are essential, so if you can't find fresh oregano and thyme, then use fresh parsley or basil instead, don't substitute dry herbs. Other nuts can be used as well such as walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds.

Mixed Summer Beans with Shallots and Pistachios

-1 pound mixed summer beans, tails removed
-2 shallots, minced
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
-2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
-1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
-salt and white pepper to taste
-squeeze of lemon

Steam the beans in a steamer basket set over boiling water until tender but still with a slight bite (al dente). Alternatively, blanch the beans in boiling salted water until al dente. When tender, immediately run under cold water or shock in ice water to stop the cooking process and set the color. If using Royal Burgundy beans, the purple color will fade a bit with cooking. Set aside.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When hot, add in the minced shallots. Sweat the shallots until they soften and just slightly brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add in the pistachios, cooked beans, fresh chopped herbs, and about 1-2 tablespoons water or vegetable stock. Stir to combine and heat through, about 3-5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt, white pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.

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