planting do-over’s: more beans and greens

beans on pedastalI 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…

summerfest badgethe Summer Fest headlines from elsewhere! My collaborators around the country have their own ideas about beans and greens:

Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen, with a savory Chinese Broccoli, Beef and Noodle Stir-Fry;

Shauna Ahern, the Gluten Free Girl celebrates her first homegrown salad ever;

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.

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).

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).

kale fritatta

Greens Frittata

What clafoutis batter is to dessert around here, fritatta “batter” is to vegetables. Leftover wedges make a great sandwich filling, on buttered toast.

6 eggs
Olive oil
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.


summerfest badgeSo 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).


  • 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.

  1. yasmin says:

    margaret, that frittata looks great. i am i love with your opening shot of the beans–that is a gorgeous picture.

    i just put up a post this week singing the praises of wild arugula. but any arugula will work in the recipe i’m contributing this week to summerfest:
    “arugula, celery and chevre salad”

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Yasmin (and wow, look at all these delicious entries in the comments so far!). I am a lover of arugula, so this one’s perfect for me. Many thanks…and don’t be a stranger.

  2. Romney Steele says:

    Hello Margaret

    Arriving at your site through Matt’s Bites, which I adore, and so glad to find you here. Great information and stories and welcome this idea of spreading the love through blogging (Summer Fest)-on greens and beans, etc.

    I love my beans quickly steamed (or blanched) and tossed with a little brown butter and perhaps a sprinkling of toasted nuts (pine nuts in the summer; hazelnuts in the fall), or simply drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. My favorite way to cook chard is to saute it with olive oil and garlic with a squeeze of lemon juice or red wine vinegar.

    You are reminding me to plant the fall garden; I live in a small flat in Oakland and have my greens in barrels and they do great. The urban gardening movement is burgeoning here-see my post about a small guerilla garden growing out of pots, boxes, bags, etc. on the side of a friend’s house in my neighborhood.


    I would love to have responses, especially to hear about more gardens in urban spaces.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Romney. Any friend of Matt’s… :) Sounds like you cook like I do; yes olive oil and garlic and a squeeze of lemon is about all that is required to make chard (and me) happy. The Bay Area has always been such a center of gardening of all kinds, and I am glad to hear Oakland in no exception. Heading over your way digitally now….

  3. Romney Steele says:

    Hi Margaret

    Thanks for commenting on my post and again, for inviting us all in for the Summer Fest. There have been 2 articles in the SF Chronicle regarding urban farming as of late, so all of this sharing of ideas and information is so relevant. My own blog is neither about food or gardening per se, but encompassing so many things, though I do hope to refocus its content. Big Sur, where I grew up, is full of gardeners. Next week is the Eat Real Festival (http://www.eatrealfest.com/), and I hope to do a bit of reporting on the urban food scene, so check back in a week or so. Thanks again.

  4. Growing vegetables says:

    Thanks a lot for the wonderful information on green beans. I’ll definitely try the recipe. The frittata looks delicious!

    @Romney Steele, Deborah and others: I’m going to visit your blogs also.

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