Monday, August 30, 2010

Roasted Italian Green Beans

Happy Meatless Monday!

We're in the midst of the annual giant harvest of Italian green beans.  I don't know about you, but I tend to get tired of these beans really easily if all I do is steam them.  Bo-ring.

Today I decided to try roasting them.  I've never heard of eating them roasted, but I figured, what doesn't taste awesome roasted with salt, pepper, and olive oil?

I had a zucchini that had seen better days, so I threw that in there too, along with some leftover red onion from my freezer.  I roasted it all with a clove of garlic.

I am really impressed--it's very tasty!

I think we've all forgotten how to make vegetables taste good.  Take, for example, my sauteed chic peas.  How do we make meat taste good?  We all know--grill, roast, or fry, and add some oil and spices, right?  Why don't we think to do the same for beans?

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Meatless Mondays Movement

Have you heard of this?  It's a public health movement with a "goal of reducing meat consumption by 15% to improve personal health and the health of our planet".  Check out all the organizations and municipalities that have taken the Meatless Mondays Pledge!

The Meatless Mondays website has free posters, recipes, and a weekly e-newsletter with innovative ideas.  I have been a subscriber for a long time and I highly recommend it.

The Audrey Bean blog has joined the Meatless Mondays Movement too.

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Food memories

Last September I was in Sicily for a few weeks.  One of my favorite dishes was so simple and delicious--I find myself craving it as the tomato harvest approaches.

My hostess simply took a large sauce pan, heated some fresh olive oil, and mashed a number of overripe plum tomatoes in it until hot.  One day I added a few beans--cannelini or chic peas, I can't remember which.  It was such a treat when served over hot rigatoni.  I can still remember my hostess's look of confusion, wondering why I was so fascinated with such a simple dish!

Counting down the days until the plum tomato glut, when the farmer's market vendors are practically paying the customers to haul them away!

Do you have any special food memories?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hummus Conspiracies

The other night after work, I was looking for a quick and delicious pre-made snack for dinner.

I was shocked to see the hummus selection at my local grocery store.  The store has recently been bought by a new company and, as far as I can tell, has significantly downsized its inventory.  Yet here they are with a full case of various flavors and brands of hummus--no less than 20 choices!

The one I bought was pine nut.  It was an extremely creamy hummus with pine nuts and oil on top, with a small amount of chopped sun dried tomatoes as a garnish.

I was wondering why it tastes so much creamier than the hummus I usually eat.  Ah.  Turns out it's because it's made mostly of soybean oil.  The nutritional content was poor when I compared the two--a third of the protein and fiber, almost no vitamins, and a lot more calories and fat. 

Word to the wise:  Store-bought hummus is not health food!  It's probably healthier than cheese dip or something like that, but definitely not a healthy vegetarian main dish staple.

I did a little research and found out some companies have put baking soda in their hummus.  Apparently it makes the product extremely smooth, but it's frowned upon because it robs the vitamins.

I'm going to stick to my brand, but I'm probably going to add more olive oil when I make it.  I like the creaminess and need the good fats anyway.  I'm also thinking about blending in some pureed spinach, artichokes, roasted peppers, or sun dried tomatoes.

I also made Zaa'tar to sprinkle on top, without the sumac.  Haven't tried it yet.  I just might pick some sumac berries to try, though.   Hmmm...another adventure.


I made this traditional Greek pie and substituted mashed cannelini beans for some of the cheese and vegetables.  It really tasted awesome, and still very rich.

I put too much dill in it though.  Turns out I misread the recipe.

How *not* to eat breakfast

With the surplus of one of my favorite foods--nectarines--I thought I'd be innovative and make a sweet bean dish for breakfast.  I drained and rinsed a can of chic peas, fried them in Olivio, flavored them with cloves and cinnamon, and ate them with chopped nectarines.

One word:  YUCK.

Chic peas are versatile and can be delicious in sweet dishes.  (Just wait until Christmas--maybe I'll make my chic pea chocolate cookies from a very old Italian recipe.)  What I failed to realize in this dish was there was not enough sweet to cancel out all the salt used in canned beans.  It just doesn't work.  I'll bet if I had cooked my own, without salt, it would have been great.

Beanstalk update!

I ended up with 3 viable beanstalks.  One ended up dying, though I'm not surprised because we had terribly oppressive weather--too much rain and heat. 

They've been pretty much care free in this climate because we get plenty of rain.  I just check them every few days to make sure they're not leaning on the dirt (so they don't rot) and the vine is going where I want it to (not strangling my strawberry plants).

So now I've got 2 left, and they're already producing beans.  I wasn't sure if they were the chic peas or the pintos.  Last night I picked the ones that are ready, and it turns out they're pintos.  They're a little more mottled than their parents--I wonder if that's a good thing or a bad thing?

 Some beans dry on the vine--that's when you know to harvest them.  Others you eat fresh, like green beans.  Apparently pintos dry on the vine.

I've only got 5 beans so far.  Once (if!) I get enough, I'll try making a dish with just the home grown ones to see if there is a difference.