For the first time, we have an actual patio, and through the winter I have been tossing birdseed out , simply because I took a scene in Mary Poppins to close to heart as a child ( "feed the birds, tuppence a bag"). In return, the geese, ducks and sparrows have provided non stop entertainment . This is a very good thing because most TV these days has no appeal to us, and the birds provide instant inspiration for homeschool lessons.Over the past week new species have begun to appear, and the show is becoming more interesting. Over the weekend we began window shopping for patio furniture , discussing possibilities for the space ( I want to grow some herbs and greens) , and a better system of feeding the birds. I sat contemplating, and wondering if I might have to choose between birds or beans.
Green beans that is. While many people think green beans are okay or must be covered in a cream sauce and topped with french onions, we have discovered a new to us way of eating and loving them, and they can work hot or cold. There is an Italian name for these, but I cannot remember what it is. Let's just call it Green Beans with Basil and tomatoes
Green Beans with Basil and Cherry tomatoes
1-2 lbs of fresh green beans
1 pint grape tomatoes
8 leaves of basil, cut in ribbons
4 cloves of garlic, de-germed and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter (NOT margarine, real butter)
salt and pepper to taste
Get a 3 quart pot and fill it with water. Bring it to a boil while you work and assemble a large bowl with ice water and something to strain beans out of. Then get a dutch oven and begin to heat it.Wash your green beans and pick through any that look not so great.
Line them up so one side is even and cut off the end that has a stick/stem
then cut into bite sized sections
Keep doing this until you get em all done. I find putting on some music or a TV show makes the work go faster. Meanwhile, get a pint of those grape tomatoes
Let the aroma take you away- it really does ! Next , grab a head of fresh garlic,
break it open to release the cloves, peel , de-germ and chop.
You will have everything ready , and the process goes quickly from here. Place some salt in your boiling water . Place the olive oil in the heated dutch oven. Place the beans in the water for one minute and toss the garlic into the oil and start to sweat. Remove the green beans from the boiling water after a minute and place in the ice water to shock. This keeps them bright green and pretty. Next add your tomatoes to the dutch oven, smashing them slightly to help release the juice. Add salt to taste. When the tomatoes are sweated and partially broken down, drain the beans and add to the tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, adding a spoonful of the bean cooking water if it gets too dry. Add in the fresh basil, toss and serve .
This one is good warm or cold. And as to the beans, my son and I grew them indoors one year as a homeschool science project, and got enough beans to snack on one day. I cannot help but be curious as to how many beans I could grow on the patio, and how much the birds and squirrels might molest them in their visits to our low brow avian cafe ? Birds or beans- I am going to have to think about this one.