HARVEST GUIDE - WEEK 9 - JULY 25, 2013
Welcome to week nine. The new items you’ll be receiving this week are string beans and potatoes! There will also be beets, lettuce, and basil. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!
String beans, also known as green beans, runner beans, or French beans, are actually the unripe form of dried common beans, albeit lower in protein. They originated in the hot climates of the Americas, China, and India. In the sixteenth century, they were introduced to the French, where they rapidly gained popularity. Green beans are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, especially Vitamins A, C, and K. Steaming the beans is the best method of preserving the most nutrients from the legume. So steam some green beans and try them in the following salad!
STRING BEAN SALAD WITH TOASTED WALNUTS AND GOAT CHEESE
1/2 Pound Green Beans
1/2 Pound Yellow Beans
Sea Salt, to Taste
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to Taste
1/2 Cup Chopped Toasted Walnuts
1/4 Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese
Quickly steam your beans so they still maintain most of their crunch. Shock them in cold water and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine with olive oil, lemon juice, and thyme with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss the beans in the dressing and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts and crumbled goat cheese. Toss again and serve immediately.
Over the course of the season, you’ll be receiving several varieties of potatoes. This week it’s Yukon Gold. The Yukon Gold is a very versatile potato. Some potatoes, such as many varieties of russets, are very high in starch. This makes them great for baking, giving them that satisfying fluffiness we’re accustomed to when biting into a baked potato or whipping up some mashed potatoes. Other potatoes, such as the Bintje, Ozette, or Nicola, are low in starch. This allows them to hold their shape when boiled or pan fried, but they don’t have the same fluffiness of their starchier relatives. Yet the Yukon Gold can go either way, making it a favorite among chefs and home cooks alike. Potatoes in general are members of the nightshade family, along with eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and--surprisingly--tobacco. There has been some controversy involving nightshades in the holistic health community as of late. Since these plants are high in alkaloids, which can promote inflammation, people suffering from arthritis and other similar conditions might not want to eat potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, as Deborah Madison states in her book Vegetable Literacy, “The same alkaloids that are dangerous to deadly in large amounts can be beneficial in small doses. They can help settle the stomachs of those prone to motion sickness or [those] who are suffering from nausea from chemotherapy.” And potatoes certainly have a lot of other health benefits; they are high in Vitamins C, B6, niacin, potassium, folate, and magnesium. The skin of potatoes, which should be eaten, is also very high in fiber. Potatoes have an interesting history. They originated in South America, but have since gained popularity throughout the world. An easy food to grow, with plenty of nutrition to sustain oneself, many cultures saw the potato as a solution to widespread hunger. However, the Irish Potato Famine, which began in 1845 and killed 1 out of 8 people in Ireland, reminds us that it is never good to depend on one variety of crop to sustain a civilization. Monocultures set themselves up for failure as they are more prone to disease, insects, and natural disasters. This is why diversity in agriculture is so important as we look ahead to the future of food in our country. Last weekend, Amber and I went to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, which currently has an exhibit called “Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture,” which was incredibly interesting and talked a great deal about the importance of diversity in agriculture. We learned that there is a place in Peru called Potato Park (or Parque de la Papa), which acts as a preserve for traditional varieties of potatoes--they grow hundreds of kinds of potatoes in all shapes and colors. If any of you will be in New York City before August 11th, this special exhibit is worth checking out: http://www.amnh.org/calendar/our-global-kitchen-food-nature-culture
Anyway, enough about that. I’m sure you’re eager to bite into your freshly harvested Yukon Gold potatoes, so here’s a recipe to help you out! And a big thanks to the Nature Camp kids from Baltimore for helping us harvest these!
MOROCCAN-STYLE STRING BEAN AND POTATO SAUTE
1 lb String Beans
1 lb Potatoes
1 Small Roasted Red Pepper, Seeded and Finely Chopped
1 TB Olive Oil
1 TB Butter
2 Cloves Garlic, Pressed
1 TB Finely Chopped Parsley
Hot Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, or Black Pepper
COOK THE GREEN BEANS: remove the ends from the green beans. Wash and drain the beans, place them in a pot, and cover with cold salted water. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, over medium heat about 10 minutes, or until the beans are crisp-tender. Immediately drain the beans and cover with cold water to stop further cooking. Allow the beans to sit in the water for a minute, then drain again.
COOK THE POTATOES: scrub the potatoes and cut larger ones in half. Place the potatoes in a pot, and cover with cold salted water. Boil, uncovered, just until the potatoes are tender. Immediately drain the potatoes and cover with cold water to prevent further cooking. Allow the potatoes to sit in the water for a minute or two, then drain.
SAUTE THE BEANS AND POTATOES: In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook gently for one or two minutes, or until the garlic is tender and fragrant. Add the green beans, potatoes, roasted pepper, parsley, and season to taste with the salt, cumin, and hot paprika. Sauté the vegetables over medium heat for several minutes, or until heated through. Serve immediately.