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. commonweeder says:

    I’ve replanted lettuces and radishes, including the gorgeous Beauty Heart radish, also known as watermelon radish. We learned about this radish (the size of a turnip) while we lived in China. There it was usually served as a pickle. I’m determined to try and figure out a recipe this year. Any ideas or tips?
    My pole beans are just coming in and I confess so far I haven’t done anything to them except steam and eat. A little butter of course.

  2. Deborah Mele says:

    Love your garden advice. I have sent my husband to your site for some pointers to help jump start our garden here in Umbria.

    I make a lot of frittatas and find they are great for breakfast, lunch, or even for a light dinner with a nice big green salad. Yours looks delicious!

    I recently made a rustic tart using bietola (swiss chard) you can find here at http://tinyurl.com/l84ro9

    As for beans, I am not sure if we are talking the same kind of beans, but here is a delicious borlotti bean soup I made recently at http://tinyurl.com/lb6r6m


  3. Kim says:

    My post this week is a simple Haricot Verts salad.


    My favorite way to cook greens is to mix a few different types – kale, collards, mustard greens and beet greens, chop up lots of garlic and sautee in olive oil. Right when they are almost done, squeeze lemon juice over them and sautee for a few more minutes. Fantastic.

    Or, my favorite ‘Green Soup’ – sautee a bunch of greens as described above, add 2-3 potatoes, cover with chicken or veg stock, cook until the potatoes are done, then puree. It’s a beautiful color and the lemon works really well with potatoes.

  4. Michelle @ www.porktopurslane.com says:

    Back in February, when I was drowning in the fog of San Francisco, I made a hearty Dried Fava Bean Stew with Arugula and Meyer Lemon (Beans AND Greens!). It was so simple, yet perfectly satisfying. You can see the post here.

  5. Martha says:

    Hi Margaret,
    Your blog is a sweet oasis for me throughout the seasons – thank you for keeping it up so faithfully. I have a question about August chores: You suggest strawberry bed rejuvenation but the link doesn’t seem to work for me. Any ideas? Also, a vegetable question: I put in an heirloom squash variety but subsequently lost the tag. The fruit is light green in color and long with a round bulb at the end, sort of the same shape as a butternut squash but much longer and narrower in the throat part. Any ideas?
    Thank you again,

  6. Diana says:

    That looks so delicious! I’ve never made a frittata before and will make this for lunch today with swiss chard. Love it!

    I’ve been trying all kinds of greens that I’ve never had before through our CSA. Our first week we got 4 shopping bags full of 8 different greens and I was a little overwhelmed. I began playing with dressings and came up with a tasty buttermilk dressing and some beautiful lacy parmesan bowls.

    But my absolute favorite new recipe for greens is swiss chard and goat cheese soup. I’ve been making it by the gallon and freezing it for winter!

  7. Margaret says:

    Welcome, Michelle. Love your url: PorktoPurslane. Ha! Thank you for joining us, and for the recipe. Love favas. See you soon again.

    Welcome, Martha. I went off to fix that link but it’s not a bad link, it’s all the links in the chores today. I must have run over a piece of code somewhere, and will sit with it later. Meantime, here’s the chores story for August w/the links working and here is your strawberry answer. You know, I am pretty technical for a gardener and a woman my age, but this is a new one on me. Thanks for pointing it out. :)

    Welcome, Lorene (oops, I missed your waiting comment there for a sec, sorry). Lazy Housewife beans, huh? Love it! Thanks for sharing them, and please come again soon with more treasures.

  8. Tammy says:

    Everything here is crispy. (Texas) I am really looking forward to a Fall garden. So, here is a recipe equally as crispy: Kale Chips. Cut off the leaves of a large bunch of Kale, discard the stems. Tear into pieces, wash and dry thoroughly. Spread out on a cookie sheet and drizzle or spray with olive oil. Sprinkle on kosher salt and parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.

  9. Heather @ chiknpastry says:

    oh boy I do love fritattas! nice ideas you have there!

    I made a green bean & farro salad for this week! Does it help that it’s topped with goat cheese? yummer!!

  10. chris says:

    young kale makes a great salad, raw, with a garlicky vinagrette…look up its nutritional value and you will make it a keeper…easy to grow too

  11. samantha says:

    Thanks for today’s post! Your blog has been a great inspiration, cheerleader, and source of knowledge in my quest to grow enough vegetables to sustain our family. We’re not quite there yet but maybe by next summer. I wanted to let you know that today’s post reminded me that the summer harvest is far from over, especially in Southern California! This weekend, I’m going to use my first batch of homemade compost to plant my salad greens, refresh the vegetables in my summer garden with some organic seedlings, and fill in my herbs (which – with the exception of oregano – are thriving this year!). BTW, your post at the beginning of the season about chopping up the compost was invaluable. (You did it with your tractor, me with a hedge trimmer.) I spent the time hacking all those branches into smaller bits and – about 8 weeks later – they’re now soil!

  12. Margaret says:

    Then you, Chris, for the kale tip (AGREE!) and thank you, Samantha, for the encouraging words. It means so much. Love that you are pre-shredding your debris into faster compost, too. Yippee. We are tough!!!

  13. Todd says:


    I am glad I stumbled upon this site, the recipes the pictures, and the rate at which you update with new information is awesome :)


  14. Rosy says:

    Ooo, I love the look of that frittata! About the only successful thing we’ve grown in our garden is beans but would you believe it, there’s been a bit of a crop lul so this week I resorted to supermarket greens (well, broad beans, peas and asparagus) for this risotto. Rosy xx

  15. Margaret says:

    Welcome, CopyStrands. Congratulations on the green beans (and on having a garden partner with a knack for growing things; good planning!). I hope we see you here soon again.

    Welcome, Sarah, and thank you for recipes for two of my favorite vegetables (as you can tell). I am so appreciative of both of them in this oddest of years. Don’t be a stranger.

    Welcome, Todd. Thank you for the words of encouragement, and I will try to keep at it. :) See you soon.

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