This girl comes from the ‘burbs, and in the ‘burbs my mom cooked roast in a bag, opened a can of green beans and hollered out, “Dinner!!!”
Well folks thanks to my sidekick Matt, I have become fancy. I call green beans haricot verts, buy them fresh at the farmer’s market and never, ever do I cook anything in a bag.
For starters, you’ve got to embrace your inner Jacques Pepin and pronounce haricot vert correctly… [ar-e-ko-‘ver]. Next, understand that haricot verts are essentially green beans just earthier, but more significantly, they are smaller so less cooking time is required (love that!). They come in green, yellow and purple, but the purple variety turns green once it is cooked which can really chap your hide if you were expecting to cook up a spirited side dish for a Lakers game. Go ahead and keep them raw for a colorful crudités platter. They have vitamin A, C and calcium and they look so stunning all together with their vibrant colors intact.
Conversely, blanch them (this is kitchen talk that just translates to boiling for a super short time in order to release the chlorophyll of a vegetable which makes its color pop but preserves its crunch), and then use them in a lovely mixed green salad with shallots, cherry tomatoes, and corn. Matt makes this all the time for parties. I love it. It tastes exactly as late summer should.
For a quick side dish, trim them (save yourself some time and just trim one end, leaving the side with the pretty tail still attached) and put them in a hot sauté pan. Add a smashed whole clove of garlic or some chopped shallots, salt, pepper, and then add some white wine or water, some lemon, and work fast because like I said, these guys are thin and can overcook easily. Finish with some chopped parsley or some cooked tomatoes or just some sea salt. Done deal.
How ‘bout some pickles? Let Heinz or whatever your favorite brand is do all the work. After you finish the ones they made, dump the juice in a pot and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, rinse and trim your haricot verts and pack them into the empty pickle jar. Now pour the boiled pickle juice back over them, put the lid on and allow to cool before you put your own version of pickled snacks back in the fridge.
Okay, so you can take the girl outta the ‘burbs, but you can’t take the ‘burbs outta the girl….. I admit it. I love casseroles. My mom made them all the time, but, bless her heart, she made them with, yes, canned soup as her base. For those of you who are like me and aren’t afraid to shout out that you like these one dish mishmash meals, let’s kick it up a notch. Instead of canned soup, let’s make our own cream of mushroom base by taking some fresh ones, be they your regular ole’ button or wild and toss them in a very hot pan coated in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add some roasted garlic or chopped raw garlic. Get a nice color going on the mushrooms, tossing them frequently so as not to burn. Get a good fond (that’s all the goop at the bottom of the pan where the most intense flavor resides. It’s the money of any dish, so don’t burn it!), and remove your mushrooms. In the same pan with all that fabulous fond, add enough cream so that when you reduce it by half it will cover your mushrooms and sautéed haricot verts.
While the cream is reducing over a medium heat (stir it frequently), place the sautéed haricot verts in a casserole, and then add the sautéed mushrooms. Next you can add some roasted chicken or steak if you like. When the cream has been reduced and has thickened, pour it over the casserole. Don’t scrape the bottom of the pan in case there are some burn crusties (goop good, crusties bad) on the bottom. For crunch, you can do what mom’s across America do and cover with those canned fried onions, or make your own by shaving some shallots and frying them in a sauté pan.
Bake as you would any other casserole and enjoy how much all the kids on the block correctly pronounce “haricot vert,” and prefer your mishmash over anyone else’s!
Tara Maxey is the sweet side of Heirloom LA catering, with Matthew Poley handling the savory side.