June 15th, 2010

Praise for Ray’s Beans

big bean salad bowl

This tasty dish is the result of neighbors passing on the street.

Bill was making his early morning march up one side of Belmont when Ray, in similar purposeful stride down the other, hailed him with this request.

“We’re going to be in California later this week for Quinn and Jane’s wedding,” he said. “My beans are coming in. Blueberries too. They’ll need to be picked. I figure you and Nancy would actually go pick them.”

Yep, Ray figured right.

An avid urban gardener for many years, Ray has always cultivated meticulous–and flourishing– vegetable beds in his backyard. Last year he gave me a couple of pounds of his pride-and-joy: haricots verts, delicate green beans that you barely steam in preparation—so good!

This past Sunday morning, before the day heated up beyond bearing, Bill and I slipped into Ray’s garden. Boy, is it impressive: Carefully mulched tomato plants, flowering, filling up their cages… lush fat bushes of genovese basil…umbrella-like leaves of squash plants, shielding the baby yellow crooknecks and striped cocozelle Italians from the baking sun. And, a formidable construction of frame and chicken wire protecting the many blueberry bushes from the onslaught of greedy birds.

We found the beans growing in compact rows, now laden with two varieties: those sleek french verts, and sweet yellow wax. It didn’t take long to amass a pretty pile of them.

just picked beans

Aren’t they gorgeous?

When we finished picking, we hurried home. These begged to be cooked and eaten immediately. And, I had a plan for them, inspired by friend Maggie. She combines young green beans with new potatoes in a creamy aioli type dressing made with olive oil, garlic, pecorino, and a smidge of Hellmans mayo. She and I made it for lunch one day last summer after puttering in her garden, picking her beans. It was one of those simple memorable meals—fresh as it gets.

bean salad mix 2

To the batch I like to add some chopped flat leaf parsley and onion. If you have any chives, or chive flowers, put that in too! But, make no mistake, the little bit of mayo is key. It adds more body—more creaminess—-to the dressing.

It’s a perfect match with the creamy nature of those new potatoes, which break down ever-so-slightly, post boil: Both coat the beans with terrific flavor.

small plate with fruit

You’ll appreciate not only the simplicity but the versatility of our bean-potato meld. It makes a delicious side dish, and is equally satisfying on a bed of greens, as a main meal.

It works served slightly warm, or room temperature. Eat it as soon as you make it–we are going for real immediacy here.

But, I love this just as much the next day, chilled. The flavors get the chance to settle in nicely. The garlic mellows. The pecorino provides a salty sharp surprise.

And the beans….mmm…they retain sweet pop and crunch.

So, a shout-out and praise to neighbor Ray. He’s growing some righteous lean, supreme, green-and-yellow beans! Salut!

close up bean salad

Green Bean-Yellow Bean-New Potato Salad
1 lb. fresh Green and/or Yellow Wax Beans
1 lb. Baby Yukon Gold (or any other small new potato)
Garlic Scapes, or 2 cloves Garlic, minced
4 Green Onions, sliced
1/4 c. chopped Italian Parsley
1/4 c. shredded Pecorino Romano (large shreds, or shaves)
1/4 c. Olive Oil
3 T. Hellman’s Mayo
1 T. White Wine Vinegar
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Cook new potatoes in lightly salted water until done—tender when pierced with a knife tip. (6-8 minutes)

Bring a wide skillet filled with water to a boil. Plunge in the beans, blanche for 1-2 minutes and remove. (Haricots verts will cook in a minute, or less. The yellow wax beans take longer.)

In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic, onions, parsley, pecorino, and mayo. Stir in vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper.

Slice warm potatoes into a bowl. Add blanched beans. Pour dressing over all and toss until well coated. Taste for salt and pepper. Serves 4 as main dish, or 8 sides.

another small plate

Posted in Recipes, Salads, Vegetables

18 Responses to “Praise for Ray’s Beans”
  1. Tracy Says:

    Nancy, you have the best photos and the best neighbor :) I want to make this salad.

  2. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    You have some very impressive friends and neighbors. Ray’s garden seems to be quite the destination. I’d just love a glimpse. I like seeing other people’s gardens (and I love knowing what books people are reading). I’m always admiring veggies through fences and sneaking peeks at book covers in parks, on the train or bus : )

  3. Katie@Cozydelicious Says:

    This looks fantastic! I have a ton of beans from my CSA share and have been trying to find new ways to play with them. I’m totally making this. Yum!

  4. foodonfifth.com, Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Those beans are so beautiful! What a great neighbor and what a fantastic recipe you made with them. Don’t you just love this time of year…each day a gardening surprise.
    Sorry to hear about your plums…if you want some let me know and I bet you can get some from the same tree or I will bring you some.
    Figs….I love figs. They are so exotic looking both inside and out. A very sensual item, the Fig!
    Just wanted to let you know…I might have already told you this…But I put your Good Food Matters/Nancy Vienneau on my blogroll/links…without your permission, but did not think you would mind.
    Stay Cool, eat cool, be cool.

  5. Maggie Says:

    Nance, it is that time! I made the same dish last night with fresh, pale yellow beans, potatoes, and green onion from the farmer’s market. I didn’t add the cheese or parsley – like any recipe – you can adjust. Soon, I’ll be using my own homegrown goodies! I may be prejudiced, but I think the old standby, Kentucky Wonder pole beans have the best flavor. Glad I was able to inspire!!!

  6. Judy Says:

    That looks yummy! What a delightful side dish that I could see as a main course too. Thanks, Nancy!

  7. Nancy Says:

    Love your description of the garden! And this salad looks delicious, what a great way to combine string beans and new potatoes. I want some of those garden blueberries too – yum!

  8. FOODESSA Says:

    Now, those are the type of neighbours I could handle quite well indeed;o)
    All this fresh produce already…wow…I’m so envious right now. I think I should start packing it up and moving. We wait too long to get any of this from our gardens so soon.
    Your recipe is so appetizing…how could I not try it. The only thing I’d tweak would be substituting the mayo for some strained yogurt and a tinch of Dijon. Hope this is of no offense to you…but I kinda of let go the mayo a while ago. I would probably have to start making my own in order to enjoy it again. I had a very unfortunate experience which led me to banning the stuff.
    This weekend…I’ll be thinking of making this salad.
    Out to the market I go;o)
    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

  9. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    Good fresh vegetables don’t need to much preparation to taste great. I like the variety of textures in this salad and you’re right the mayo binds the entire salad together.

  10. Kelli Says:

    Yum! Made this for dinner last night as a side dish. Looking forward to leftovers in my lunchbox today.

  11. mark Says:

    you are very lucky to have a neighbor like Ray!

  12. Linda McFadyen-Ketchum Says:

    Nancy, we have a backyard garden full of beautiful beans, too, so I will make this dish for a family supper tomorrow evening. Thank you for the idea.
    On a more mundane note, how can I print your recipes without the photos? I have tried cutting and pasting into a Word doc but the photos come along.

  13. Mary Says:

    You are fortunate indeed and managed to create a great salad from that bounty. I am new to your blog and spent some time reading many of your earlier posts. I love your recipes and enjoyed my visit. I’ll be back soon. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  14. Patrick O'Rourke Says:

    We had some fresh green beans, steamed just a bit with red peppers, almonds and other wonderful things the other night. Wild blackberries coming in within days, it’s a rough climb and coming down the hill is even hairier but the payoff is super. Thanks for your work with this blog.

  15. Jenny Giovannucci Says:

    Hi Nance

    We planted a garden for the first time this year and now I wish we had added green beans! Oh well, Kroger beans this year and fresh beans from our Waterville OH back yard next summer. Ray’s Beans and potato salad looks wonderful – can’t wait to try it!

    Your blog is great – love your gorgeous photos and the way the recipe unfolds with a story.

    until next time,

  16. Mary Says:

    Beans have not yet started to come in here. The ones in markets are transported from other states and I try to avoid that. Your photos are wonderful and I’m envious of your bounty. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  17. rachel Says:

    They weren’t picked from our neighbours garden but we had geen beans (fagiolini) and new potatoes the other day, with hard boiled eggs having changed my mind about grilling fish. Your plate looks rather more handsome it must be said. I like the sound of your (maggie’s) dressing and have made a note.
    Praise for Ray’s beans indeed.

  18. Good Food Matters » Blog Archive » Ray’s Green Beans and Romesco Says:

    […] I’ve done in productive summers past, I’ve created a dish to celebrate them. This time, I gleaned inspiration from a favorite […]

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