French Green Beans are one of my favorite foods in France. To be clear: these are not green beans, those chunky, crunchy, scowl-inducing veggies your mom used to make you eat as a kid. These are French Green Beans, or haricots verts, slender little delicate beans that are delicious on their own or quickly blanched and then tossed with some carrot sticks, a couple beet greens and that dijon-spiked, shallot-based classic french vinaigrette. This is not a salad. This is an event. Enjoy.
FRENCH GREEN BEAN SALAD (Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side)
- 1 lb. French Green Beans
- 1/4 C. matchstick carrots
- 1/2 C. beet greens (no more – the beans are the star of this, not the greens)
- Classic French Vinaigrette
1.Blanch your green beans. You do this by gently boiling some salted water in a large pot, then throwing the beans in for no more than 2 minutes, or until the beans have a little bend to them, but aren’t soggy. Test them pretty often, so you make sure you get the right texture – it’s key to the salad.
2. Have an ice bath ready, and when the beans are ready, quickly drain them in a colander and dunk them in the ice bath so they stop cooking.
3. Drain the beans and pat them dry. Toss with 3/4 of the vinaigrette, then add the carrots and beet greens, and toss with the rest of the vinaigrette.
4. Serve immediately and enjoy. J’adore les haricots verts!
When I answered the phone at work one day in December 2013, I never thought the voice on the other end was that of the man I’d eventually marry. Journalist Brendan Gibbons, despite our eleven year age gap, complete resistance on both of our parts to falling in love with each other because we were “trying to be practical about this,” different backgrounds, interests and life experiences (so far) is, without question, the love of my life. And we’re engaged.
I’ve been in a lot of relationships, with a lot of different kinds of guys. At some point, I tried to convince myself that I was willing to settle for “less than.” But that kind of thinking can only carry you so far, and now, after nearly two years with Bren, I finally know what it’s like to be with a man who challenges me, excites me, thrills me and loves me so deeply and whole-heartedly that I can’t believe I ever tried to convince myself I wanted anything less. Of course we drive each other crazy sometimes, but there’s nobody else I respect or admire more, or who I have more fun with. He’s the best guy I’ve ever known, and I’m so grateful we’re going to spend our lives together. It’s going to be an incredible adventure.
JBG, thank you for loving me the way you do. I’m the luckiest.
I have tried and failed to duplicate that French vinaigrette – the real kind, the Paris kind – for years now. When we went to Paris in July, I made it my mission to figure it out. Every place we went that served something with the right flavor, I asked them what was in it. Vinegar and olive oil were usually the response, until one waitress hooked me up. This. This is the one.
- 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
- 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped shallot
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1 tbsp. good whole-grain dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp. fresh black pepper
- 1/4 c. EVOO
1.Combine vinegars with the shallot and garlic. Let sit for 15 minutes – this mellows the flavors and sweetens it, somehow? It’s awesome.
2. After 15 minutes, whisk in the mustard and the salt and pepper.
3. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the EVOO until combined.
4. Taste and season. Serve with just about anything.
When I lived in Boston, I was part of a cooking club with some of my girlfriends, and the first thing we ever made was a Pesto, which I instantly fell in love with. There’s something so perfectly end-of-summery about it, and while it doesn’t keep all that long, you can freeze it in an ice-cube tray and then pop out little ice-cube portions of pesto whenever you get a craving. Brendan and I found these enormous, gorgeous bunches of basil at the Farmer’s Market on Friday, so I threw together this pesto. We’ve been eating it all weekend. Pestoooo.
CLASSIC PESTO (Makes about 2 cups)
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed (just leaves, not stems)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 C. EVOO
- good pinch kosher salt, to taste
- Squeeze of lemon, to taste
- Toast the pine nuts. Just put them in a skillet over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, shaking pretty frequently to rotate them. Keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn.
- Add basil leaves to a food processor (there’s no getting around having one of these to make pesto) along with the garlic and pine nuts, and pulse a couple times until it’s combined.
3. Add cheese, pulse again until combined, scraping down the sides with a spatula. With the processor running, slowly add the EVOO until it’s all blended.
3. Season with kosher salt and a squeeze of lemon to taste. We’ve had this on pasta, toast and as a base for a breakfast sammie. So good.
- A postscript – August was…interesting. There’ve been some real moments and challenges, but all I can say is how grateful I am for all the people in my life who love me, especially the support of Brendan, my family, and Pam and Mark G. I know I’ve been posting a lot less, but I had to take a break for a little while to kind of get my voice back. September is going to be one of the most decisive months of my life, but I’m going to keep writing through it. Lots to come. xo