Fresh Cherry Tomato Tian

Mary King’s Tian

Down South, we’d simply call this a garden gratin. A tian is the French version, which basically means the same thing, yet sounds so much more delicious served as a simple vegetarian friendly lunch or alongside a main course.

Member Mary King made this recipe using fresh ingredients from the Tuesday share (photo featured right). Mary states it’s already a new household favorite.

Pro-tip: Be sure to caramelize the onions well – this prolonged step makes a huge flavor hit.

Ingredients
1/2 – 1 lb fresh cut green beans
1 tsp Olive oil
2 – 3 large fresh onions, thinly sliced
3 – 4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 – 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar to taste
1 tsp dried basil or 1 tbsp fresh
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 – 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook beans in boiling water about 3 minutes. You want them to have some crunch. Drain and rinse under cold water; set aside.

Heat a nonstick skillet coated with olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients (onion through pepper); saute 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Stir in vinegar, basil, and oregano; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Arrange beans in an baking dish in a single layer, pre- grease bottom of pan with a dash of olive oil brushed with a basting brush. Top with onion mixture. Arrange tomatoes on top of onion mixture, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400° for 35 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned. Serve warm. Pairs well, as most things in life, with a piece of crusty bread.

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com and Julia Child, sans butter.

The Last Green Beans

by Marykate Smith Despres, Salem Depot

We had an abundance of beans in our garden this year. This is a good thing, but also problematic, especially when your garden is not outside your back door. Packing the baby up and trekking to our community garden plot every other day did not prove as easy as I had anticipated back in the spring when we first planted and when said baby was still snuggled up inside me in an oh-so-portable way. As it turned out, my postpartum garden visits dwindled to once weekly.

Despite my divided attention, however, the beans grew. And grew. And grew. Until they became so large as to be tough, too tough to eat raw and even quite tough when cooked. I considered throwing them in the crockpot with some other veggies and meat to make a stew, but it just hadn’t been stew weather until this week. I considered a twist on pork and beans and emailed my friend, a chef, for advice. She directed me to the following recipe, adapted from the Southern-Style Green Beans featured in this year’s April/May issue of Cook’s Country. Not only did it solve my bean problem, it also gave me an excuse to use my Dutch oven – a wedding gift that had sat un-opened in our closet for the past three years.

You’ll need:

5 slices bacon*
1 large onion, halved and sliced
3 pounds green beans, trimmed
2 1/2cups water
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sugar

* Because I had pork belly on hand rather than bacon, I used that. I used about 3 thick cuts of pork belly (which is about three times the amount of bacon, in other words, three times the amount of yum), diced into pieces about the size of my thumbnail and 1/4″ thick.

Cook all of your pork belly or half your bacon over medium heat in the Dutch oven until crisp. If you’re using bacon, you’ll want to take it out and put it aside, but I left my pork belly in and added my onions right in on top, stirring occasionally.

Once your onions are soft, add everything else to the pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, give it a gentle, so as not to break the beans, stir every once in a while. After about 45 minutes, uncover.

The original recipe tells you to toss your bacon at this point and cook uncovered on higher heat for about 5 more minutes, but I left my pork belly in for the remainder of the cooking and the entirety of the eating. If you did use bacon, you’ll want to crumble those previously cooked slices on top before serving. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Of course, you don’t need over-grown green beans for this meal. It works just as well with the picked-when-perfect beans some folks got in last week’s share.

 

A Simple Sauce

by Marykate Smith Despres, Salem Depot

For someone who doesn’t like tomatoes, my husband makes a mean sauce. Sauce, or red gravy as my grandmother calls it, is the only way he’ll eat the delicious fruit that I will gladly nosh right off the vine, or in big juicy bites interrupted only by a pause to wipe my mouth or add another shake of salt.

Like the good grandchildren of Italian grandmothers that we are, both he and I will claim that our respective grandmother’s sauce is, or was, the best. Both matriarchs could be called purists when it comes to the stuff and both grandchildren would gladly and forever eat heaping plates of it ladled over manicotti, baked in ziti, or, if we were lucky, off a wooden spoon come straight from the pot. He will tell the story of the giant ziplock bags of his nana’s sauce sent to school with him at the end of visits home from college, and I of the time my grandma ate red gravy from a jar and spoke of it only while crossing herself and rolling her eyes skyward in apology to her mother.

With such seriuos sauce legacies looming, my husband would be hard-pressed to call his sauce anything other than something fast and easy to do for dinner, but he is too modest. It is a very different sauce from the ones we are used to, but that is as it should be. He uses fresh tomatoes, adds vegetables rather than meat, and cooks it quickly in a pan instead of all day in the pot, enabling each ingredient to maintain it’s individual form and flavor yet still marry with the rest. Just like our grandmothers, however, it is made in the throw in some of this and a little of that form, so this recipe is an eavesdropper’s approximation of a particular evening’s version.

You’ll need:

about 4 tomatoes (or slightly more tomatoes than green beans), diced

1/2 lb green beans, trimmed

6 – 8 oz white mushrooms, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3-5 leaves fresh basil, torn

salt and pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes, garlic and basil in a pan over medium low heat. Shake in a little salt and pepper. Add mushrooms and cook until they begin to soften. The beans are last. Cook it all a minute or two more. Serve over your choice of pasta.

 

Simple Green Bean Salad

by Marykate Smith Despres, Salem Depot

When we get green beans in our share, I intentionally weigh them out and put them in my bag first. When I pick the bush beans from my garden, it’s the same thing. I cannot resist a fresh green bean. I try so hard to bring them all home, but most times, my mouth gets in the way.

If the green beans survive the two mile journey from the depot to my door, there is still a very good chance they will all be eaten raw. When I do cook fresh green beans, I barely cook them. This simple, cold green bean salad is perfect for maintaining the integrity of your green beans. The recipe is a loose one, as recipes learned in family’s kitchen tend to be.

 

All you’ll need is:

2 parts green beans to 1 part white onion (though if you are a big fan of raw onion, you may want to fiddle with this ratio)

a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil

one crank each of coarse ground sea salt and black pepper

 

Blanch your beans. Be very careful not to overcook them. They should keep their crunch. Have a bowl of ice water ready. After you’ve drained and rinsed the beans, dump them in the ice water to ensure that they stop cooking quickly and completely.

Slice your onion. Long slices are best. You’ll want the slices to be as thick as the green beans, if not slightly wider.

Toss your onion and green beans together with the oil, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least an hour and serve cold.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself making this salad every summer. It is the perfect snack or side on a hot day – the food equivalent to fresh squeezed lemonade.