I PUT MY BEANS UP ON A PEDESTAL because they are one of the crops that’s finally producing here in the Year of Big Rains. In fact, I just planted another whole row of bush beans, along with more collards and kale, among many things. Welcome to Week 3 of the cross-blog Summer Fest 2009: Beans and Greens Week, a perfect time (if you hurry) to fine-tune the vegetable garden and eke out some produce for late summer, fall—and beyond. My tips for a never-say-die garden salvage job, and some easy recipe ideas, but first…
Diane and Todd of White on Rice Couple get creative (and frugal) with all those greens that are really “tops” of garden vegetables;
and Matt Armendariz of Mattbites, with Sauteed Beet Greens with Pancetta and Sundried Tomatoes.
Like gardeners all around my region, I’ve spent a lot of time lamenting the loss of tomatoes and other crops that washed away or just plain succumbed to some fungus or slimy character. But I finally got energized about fighting back, with an even more aggressive succession-sowing plan than in a “normal” year. Where things were lost or have finished, I plugged in a liberal next round of something fast-growing. So far:
- Bush beans: I used a 55-day variety for faster results, to beat fall frost, and will have a floating row cover on hand for possible cold nights later on.
- Collards and kale: These cold-tolerant crops (above, my earlier crop) will do just fine (and by the way, are amazing eaten young as well, at about 30 days onward).
- Swiss chard: Ditto.
- Arugula, and mesclun mix, and also just lettuce:
- Carrots (and beets or turnips would be nice, too, as would varieties of those grown for their tops, or greens, and also radishes).
- Basil (and cilantro if you use it). Scallions are likewise fast; I don’t use them much, but you may.
- Pak choi will go in next week, a liberal planting of a mini kind, along with spinach and maybe some broccoli raab.
- A row of peas went in mid-July (again, a shorter-stature, faster variety). In areas where frost comes much later, sowing peas is still possible.
MY GO-TO BEAN ‘RECIPES’
I’ve written before about how I could just eat beans lightly steamed with butter and salt nonstop, and also that I throw beans into pasta water for the last 2 minutes of boiling, then drain and toss with olive oil, red sauce and grated cheese. If you have a bumper crop, and like pickles, try putting up some pints of Dilly Beans (and here’s a recipe, along with thoughts on freezing green beans and more).
MY GO-TO GREENS ‘RECIPES’
Sauteed garlicky greens (whether eaten as a side or tossed into some cooked pasta with cheese) is a favorite dish. Cook them only lightly, so they remain bright in color, not olive-drab. A splash of white wine or stock (vegetable or chicken) in the pan will speed the cooking. And then there is my solution for everything: eggs (as in fritatta).
What clafoutis batter is to dessert around here, fritatta “batter” is to vegetables. Leftover wedges make a great sandwich filling, on buttered toast.
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese or more to taste
Bunch of kale with thickest part of midribs removed, then sliced crossways into 1/2-inch-wide strips (like a coarse chiffonade)
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Potato, sliced about ¼-inch thick (enough slices to cover the bottom of your pan)
Medium onion, halved and cut into thin crescent slices
Pepper to taste
Sautee the onion in the oil in a 9- or 10-inch pan, “sweating” it with the lid on, so it doesn’t brown but gets glossy and transparent. Nonstick pans, if you use them, or well-seasoned cast iron seem best; really oil well otherwise.
Remove onion, and sautee the potato slices until tender and mostly cooked, though not too brown. Layer cooked onion back onto potatoes.
Add chopped kale and parsley, cover and cook a couple of minutes on low to soften or wilt greens (adding a few drops of water may create a little steam inside and hasten this).
Add cheese, then pour on the 6 eggs (beaten first, as for scrambled). Cook on low, covered, until mostly solid, then pop under broiler quickly to finish.
Variations: Strips of sautéed or roasted red pepper can be layered on top for an extra color. Feta can be substituted for Parmesan, and a sort of crustless “spinach” pie created, which is equally nice with chard or other greens.
HOW YOU CAN JOIN IN SUMMER FEST:
So now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting with our posts of Tuesday, July 28, for four Tuesdays, you can contribute in various ways, big or small. Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:
Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.
The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.
Or think bigger: Publish entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2009 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites).
THE 2009 SCHEDULE:
- Tuesday, July 28: HERBS. Any and all; I did parsley, and readers added everything else.
- Tuesday, August 4: FRUITS FROM TREES (also known as stone fruits, but we won’t scream if you toss in a berry or another fruit, promise). My entry was a peach clafoutis.
- Tuesday, August 11: BEANS-AND-GREENS WEEK (either or both, your choice).
- Tuesday, August 18: TOMATO WEEK. How do you like them love apples?
And in case I forget what week it is, won’t somebody remind me on Twitter? Thanks. We’ll be talking it up there, too.
That’s how a Summer Fest works (and the way that Food Fest 2008 worked, too, remember?). See you next week.