Thursday, August 9, 2012

Braised green beans & summer vegetables

Have you ever played the "what if" game?  You know, when you imagine that some unlikely event occurs, leaving you to enjoy a new found talent or gift.

What if you could teleport?  I'd go somewhere different in Europe for dinner (and dessert, obvs) every night.

What if all calories were equal?  I'd eat nothing but ice cream and peanut butter for an entire week.

Oh, and Matt's favorite question: What if you won the lottery?

"I'd call a lawyer and financial planner," I'd say without any hesitation.

Inevitably, Matt gets frustrated and gives me some speech about the true idea of the "what if" game -- It's fun! Use your imagination!  Let loose!  Then, he'll end it all by saying that I'm boring and no fun, and he doesn't want to play anymore.  (Kindergarten, much?)

Um, so maybe I'm a bit of a wet blanket.  What can I say?  I don't want to become one of those lottery winners that goes off the deep end and becomes mayor of Crazytown, USA.  I'm just being realistic.

But, okay, maybe I needn't be that realistic about winning the lottery.  I still say he'll thank me when/if we ever win and can retire early, travel, etc.  Just you wait and see.

In the meantime, a slightly more realistic "what if" question is this: What if I had a vegetable garden?

My kitchen would probably be overflowing with beans, summer squash, and tomatoes right about now.  I'd be pawning them off gifting them to everyone I knew and anyone with a friendly face.  I'd be making loaves upon loaves of zucchini bread, platters full of sausage with goat cheese and tomatoes, and pounds of roasted green beans.  Maybe I'd even turn green myself?

Or I could just live in reality (there's an idea, huh?) and take advantage of the unbelievably inexpensive hauls of beans, squash, and tomatoes at the grocery store.

I could make this ridiculously simple meal, bursting with fresh flavors and a surprising boost from the wine, and tell you all about it.  And then, you could make it for yourself and see what all the fuss is about.  It's a no-fuss but totally fuss-worthy kind of dish.  Make sense?

Real vegetables are good.  Reality is good.  Because I don't think the world is quite ready to see my "I just won the lottery" face anyway.  Dangerous stuff.

One year ago: Chipotle steak salad with homemade dressing
Two years ago: Slow cooker "chicken" pork chops

Braised Green Beans & Summer Vegetables
(adapted from Eating Well)
-feeds 4 as a side dish, 2-3 as a main

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small sweet onion, cut in half and sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano)
1/2 cup white wine (or 1/2 cup chicken broth, if you prefer)
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 zucchini, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black peper
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in large saute pan over medium heat.  Add onion and oregano and cook, stirring, until softened and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add wine (or broth) and bring to a boil. Add green beans, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.  Add zucchini and tomatoes and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately.

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