Thursday, August 26, 2010

okra and purple beans

A tale of two vegetables - one I dread to see in my CSA bag and the other a welcome surprise.

Let's tackle the former first. Okra.  What to do with the CSA basket of okra that keeps appearing week after week?  Those slimy little suckers grow fast and easy which means this native Midwesterner finally needs to become educated in cooking them up.  And I just moved out of the Deep South!

I have learned that high heat helps to keep the slime at bay.  Roasting was an acceptable cooking method, and sauteing on a very hot stove would nice also if it weren't for the handful of other veggies I then dumped in with it, recreating a wet texture not unlike the slime I was trying to eradicate in the first place.

While searching for the perfect recipe for okra today, I came across this amusing quote in a New York Times article about the pesky pod:  "Steamed whole okra is phenomenal with butter and salt and is also great split, stuffed with crab, battered, fried and served with a light hollandaise."  Well, duh! Isn't anything better stuffed with crab, fried and/or doused in hollandaise??   The article does suggest an appealing recipe involving cornmeal and a cast iron skillet (and okra, alas) that I'm ready to try when okra inevitably shows up at my door this week.  Time to dust off my beautiful iron skillet (that sadly doesn't get much use because I'm scared of cleaning it and rust.)

A vegetable that I have learned to love recently is the shell bean.  I'm not sure what varieties Crooked Sky Farms is growing, but the first bundle last month were tender and sweet (lady peas, perhaps) and the ones I cooked up last night were so pretty!  Actually, at first I thought they were green beans but when I went to wash them, realized they were meant to be shelled.  The first pale green pod I opened revealed surprising purple beans inside!  Cooked in lightly salted water in a small pan, til tender, the fresh shell beans needed no accompaniment. Though I'm sure they'd be just as good cooked up with some ham or bacon...

They were just as pretty cooked - muted shades of olive and eggplant.  Gave me the urge to redecorate something.

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