Well it is officially Autumn… I’ve ordered my Thanksgiving Turkey from MOB Farms. But with high humidity and temps in the upper 80’s, it’s kinda hard to “feel the fall love.” So my menu continues light and cool a bit longer.
A lot of crops in the Midwest seem to get two chances at my table: spinach, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, raspberries and green beans are among our favorite produce that show up in both spring and fall. Just as you start longing for those long-ago spring delicacies, they reappear. And actually—in a good year—the early autumn produce is superior to its spring counterpart with better texture, richer flavor and perfect timing for canning and freezing.
I again will be freezing at least a couple of big bags of green beans in the next few weeks. But we also like to have a few dishes right out of the field. For instance, I love this savory-sweet blend of steamed green beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion and red adzuki beans tossed in a lemony basil vinaigrette. It hits all the high notes of summer and ushers in the deep melodies of fall. Gotta love all the harmony on the table.
Just a note about adzuki (some say aduki) beans: these are protein-packed little powerhouses that keep an excellent texture without becoming starchy. I get them at my local health food store, Green Earth Grocery in Edwardsville, IL. If you can’t find them, you can use red kidney beans in place of the adzuki, but get adzuki if you can for better texture, nuttier taste and extra nutrition.
- One pound fresh green beans, washed, trimmed and snapped in half
- One cup dry adzuki beans, soaked at least eight hours or overnight
- One cup thin-sliced red onion rings
- Two cups heirloom or standard cherry tomatoes (A mix of orange and red makes a really pretty dish.)
- One-half cup toasted pine nuts
- Crumbled bacon (optional)
- The zest and juice of one medium lemon
- Two tablespoons Dijon mustard (Grainy is good here.)
- Two to three cloves minced garlic
- One quarter-cup olive oil
- One quarter cup fresh basil leaves, minced (Mince and add you basil last because basil leaves go black and ugly in the blink of an eye unless immediately incorporated into the dressing.)
- Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste.
- Cook the adzuki beans until tender, about 40 minutes. Bring them to a boil using cold water and then simmer steadily until done. A taste test at about 30 minutes is a good idea. Drain and cool.
- Steam the green beans for about 20 to 25 minutes, until tender crisp. The exact timing will depend on how tender or tough your beans are. Remove from steamer basket and cool in a big mixing bowl.
- Combine the adzuki beans with the green beans and the red onion rings in the big mixing bowl.
- Make the dressing in a small bowl or large measuring cup by combining the lemon juice and zest with the Dijon and garlic. Give it a whisk to combine. While whisking constantly, add the olive oil in a steady, slow stream until emulsified. Add the minced basil leaves and salt and pepper. Whisk to combine and pour over the room-temperature bean mixture. Toss thoroughly and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Top with toasted pine nuts. Of course, you can add crumbled bacon, as my husband did.
If you want to serve the salad immediately instead of chilling it, room temperature is an option. It just depends on your preference. Note that the prep time above does not include soaking the adzuki beans.
Only Four More Market Days
It’s really coming to the end of the season for the Land of Goshen Community Market. I bet your farmer’s market is winding down, too. So here I am, once again encouraging you to plan ahead and buy local and green for the coming holiday season. What you purchase at the big mall will mean little to either the economy or the company who made the item. What you purchase from the local farmer, neighborhood potter, and your community art center will directly impact the well being of that person and the community. You’ll feel great, too. Here’s information on one of my favorite vendors… who has also become my friend:
Several friends are celebrating the birth of children or grandchildren this year. For those having little girls, I’ve got just the thing—a one-of-a-kind dress from Lexi & Me Boutique, a small enterprise run by master seamstress Sheila McCormack. Her materials come from just about anywhere and inspire the most enchanting dresses that range in size from new-born to about a girl’s size 6. These are the dresses that get handed down through generations, worn on special occasions and loved forever. Sheila also takes custom orders and sells very popular nursing sleeves, booties, girls purses, tutus and American Girl doll dresses. Her own joy is woven into each and every stitch. You can reach her by email at SheilaMack99@gmail.com.