French Green Beans and Baby Tomatoes with Tapenade (4)

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French green beans or haricots verts as they are known in France are a thinner version of the traditional green beans found in the US and UK and I much prefer them. In France haricots verts and tomatoes are often combined, whether it be in a salad or a hot dish such as this. I have added tapenade – a traditional Mediterranean appetizer often served on toasted bread in a similar way to bruschetta or used as a dip for crudites – and stirred it in with the vegetables. Tapenade at its most basic combines black olives, capers and olive oil. My version also includes anchovies, garlic and lemon juice. If you don’t want to make it yourself you may be able to find it in your local supermarket. Goes well with lamb or firm white fish.

8 oz thin green beans – topped, tailed and cut in half

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 oz cherry tomatoes – cut in half

1 tbsp. tapenade (or more if you want)

Boil the green beans for just a few minutes until ‘al dente’, then drain.

At the same time put 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When sizzling add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes become soft and browned on both sides.

Add the beans and 1 tbsp. of tapenade to the pan with the tomatoes and the juices and toss well together.

TAPENADE (makes approx. 1 cup – which is more than you need for this recipe)

1 x cup pitted black olives

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 heaped tbsp. curly parsley

1 tbsp. capers – drained

1 large clove garlic – cut into small pieces

4 anchovies

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend to your desired consistency.

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A Verdant Salad (4)

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This is a lovely, colorful, healthy salad and you can take a big pan of boiling water and use the same pan to cook all the vegetables one after the other. You really have to be in the kitchen for this recipe to keep an eye on the veggies as they want to be ‘al dente’. Serve with vinaigrette of your choice or mayonnaise.

4 oz baby asparagus -cut the bottom ends off

4 oz French green beans (the thin ones) – topped and tailed

4 oz yellow waxed beans – topped and tailed

4 oz snowpeas/mangetout

8 baby potatoes

2 eggs

1/2 can of hearts of palm – chopped into pieces

4 anchovies – chopped into pieces (optional)

Place asparagus into boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, remove from pan and place on paper towel to cool and absorb any water.

Repeat with green beans, waxed beans and snowpeas – cooking them one after the other.

Place potatoes and eggs in the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes.

Arrange veg. on a platter with the hard-boiled eggs (cut into 1/8ths) and hearts of palm.

Scatter pieces of anchovies over the veg.

 

Jo’s Ratatouille (4)

photo - potato ratatouille

Loads of veg. in this. Not a true ratatouille (to my mind just as good but different). And the addition of potatoes, so a one pot meal. Good for vegetarians and vegans, but also a side dish.

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 a large onion – chopped

2 large garlic cloves – finely chopped (or I grate mine)

1 cup veg. stock/broth

2 zucchini/courgettes – sliced and quartered

1/2 dry pint of cherry tomatoes – halved

4 oz. French green beans – topped and tailed, cut into halves or thirds

8 oz. roasted red peppers – cut into small pieces (bought mine in a jar)

8 oz. baby potatoes – cut into quarters

Heat oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper in large skillet/frying pan.

When sizzling add onion and garlic and cook until onion is softened and going brown.,

Add broth/stock, zucchini/courgettes/cherry tomatoes, French beans and red peppers.

Bring to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Cook new potatoes separately in  a pan of boiling water for about 10 minutes.

Add to veggies and serve (fairly good cold too).

 

Festive Salad (serves 4)

photo - Festive Salad

Every once in a while during the Festive Season it can be nice to have a salad around – good with cold leftovers, counter balance to rich food. If you have a buffet it can be added to the mix. Or some people serve it as one of the courses during a more formal event. And, best thing is that it can be made in advance.

I blended together chopped lettuce (a nice crisp Romaine), good handful of dried cranberries, a little bit of finely chopped red onion, chopped walnuts and thin green beans (cooked ‘al dente’ and cut into small pieces). Dressing was a honey mustard dressing (1 tbsp. runny honey, 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

If you have leftover turkey you can add it into the mix.

Tomato, Green Bean, Potato and Olive Salad

Tomato, Green Bean, Potato and Olive Salad

On vacation in France with 10 other family members we all took turns to help in the kitchen – preferably quick and easy. This was my contribution one night. I had intended just a simple tomato and green bean salad with those thin French green beans and then I made it more substantial by adding some cooked new potatoes and some pitted black olives that were lurking in the fridge and tossed it with my anchovy vinaigrette.

I had no scales or measurements available, so just take sliced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes, greens beans cooked ‘al dente’ and baby new potatoes (halved) in roughly equal amounts. Add in some chopped black olives and toss with anchovy vinaigrette – see below

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. parsley – finely chopped

1 garlic clove – finely chopped

3 anchovies – finely chopped

Jo’s Pad Thai (serves 4)

Jo’s Pad Thai (serves 4)

My Pad Thai may not be truly authentic but it tastes good. Chopping takes a little time and would be a great thing to do with another person – husband, son or daughter or a friend (I often cook with a friend of mine when she makes dinner). The added ingredient here is my newly discovered Tamarind Paste – Neera’s Tamarind Paste, found in Whole Foods; a different brand can be found in Waitrose in the UK. I used a gluten-free soy sauce, but it does contain soy, so may not be appropriate for some of you. On top of that I added fish sauce, lime juice, ginger and extra virgin olive oil. I purposely only used one chicken breast as am trying to reduce the amount of meat we eat and increase the veg. Ideal pan is a skillet with a glass lid. Cooking time is around 15 minutes.

A 1 inch piece of ginger – peeled and finely grated

1 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. gluten-free soy sauce

1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp. tamarind paste (not concentrate) – dissolved in 1 tbsp. of hot water

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Place all of the above in a bowl and mix together.

1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 large bunch of scallions/spring onions – finely sliced

2 large garlic cloves – finely chopped

1 chicken breast – finely sliced and cut into small pieces (so they cook quickly)

1/2 a red pepper – cut into fine strips

1 large carrot – cut into matchsticks

4 oz. thin French green beans – cut in two

4 good size broccoli florets – cut into smaller florets

4 oz. baby bella mushrooms – sliced

Heat oil in skillet and when sizzling add scallions/spring onions and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add chicken and sear.

Add all veg. and pour over the sauce.

Cook for 10 minutes or until chicken pieces are cooked through.

Slow-cooked Green Beans and Baby Tomatoes (serves 4)

Slow-cooked Green Beans and Baby Tomatoes (serves 4)

Slow-cooking these ingredients makes the beans really soft (I used the skinny French green beans) and the baby tomatoes burst and release their juices. Not much liquid is needed, just a cup of veg. broth/stock. I also added 1/2 cup of passata (a  crushed tomato sauce). This rustic dish is meant to be eaten cold, but you could serve it hot. It is almost a salad.

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium size onion – chopped

2 x garlic cloves – roughly chopped

8 oz. French green beans

1 dry pint of baby tomatoes

1/2 cup of passata

1 cup veg. broth/stock

Put seasoned oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add the onion and garlic and let brown a little.

Then add the rest of the ingredients (you can add more liquid if needed as cooking time progresses.

Bring to boil, then simmer for half an hour.

After that, turn the heat down to low and cook for a further half an hour.