When I visit the market I've always got my eyes open for something, new and interesting or something old and familiar that can be prepared in a new and interesting way. For every Western way of fixing a vegetable the Indian kitchen has about 5 variations. One favorite vegetable is Chinese Long Beans. Long beans look like the Jolly Green Giant's shoe laces if he was wearing high tops. They're easily found at any Asian market and they are one of my favorite things to eat. However, I'm not in LA anymore where I could throw a rock and hit a pile of Chinese Long Beans. I'm in Sonoma Wine Country where finding long beans means a 50 mile round trip, and in the name of carbon footprints and fuel economy not to mention time, I don't do the long bean thing too often. Which is sad. The silver lining to this story is that any long bean recipe works great with plain old string beans, which can be found everywhere.
Last week there was a sale on fresh local green beans so I picked up a pound of them to fix for lunch. Note: About green beans, these don't do so well stored in the fridge and should be eaten within two days of purchase as opposed to say, cauliflower which the older it gets the better it gets. When you think cauliflower, think cougars. If you don't believe me, listen to my friend Nisha Katona over in the UK.
But, back to the green beans. I was looking for a way to prepare them that would be different and jazz them up a bit. I thought about doing a sauce made of white poppy seeds (which I thought I had in the pantry) but I had't any. What I did have however was cashews, and cashews can be turned in to a delicious creamy sauce that works perfectly with string beans. I mentioned that this is cream without the moo, meaning non-dairy. I prepared the sauce using yogurt as a binder but one can just as easily use soy yogurt and turn the dish from simple vegetarian to vegan.
Green Beans In Cashew Cream
Here's What You Need:
1 lb of fresh string beans
1 fresh serrano chili
1/2 inch piece of ginger peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
3 Tbs raw, unsalted chopped cashews
6 curry leaves or 1/2 a bay leaf
3/4 cup of yogurt or soy yogurt for a vegan dish
1 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
3 Tbs of vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Here's What To Do:
Wash, drain and chop the string beans into 1 inch pieces.
Steam them gently for about 8 minutes, until they're cooked but not soft, you want them al dente.
Set them aside.
In a blender or grinder or food processor mix together the cashews, yogurt,chili,cumin seeds, ginger, and half of the chopped cilantro.
Blend them altogether until you have a smooth cream.
Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet, or kadhai.
When the oil is hot, add in the curry leaves or the bay leaf and stir things around for about 30 seconds.
Add in the steamed green beans...
...and Yogurt sauce, salt and nutmeg.
Stir things around on a medium heat and cook until the sauce starts to thicken, about 10 minutes.
Take it off the heat, sprinkle with the rest of the chopped cilantro and serve it up.
Okay, so how was it? we loved it, and that got me thinking about trying this recipe with other sorts of nuts. Pistachio, or walnuts come to mind since I always have those in the house. This dish took no time to make. The most involved part of the whole thing was chopping those green beans, but you can always do what I do and chop them up the night before, wrap them tight and store them in the fridge. Either way, this is something that can be on the table in 30 minutes, and some days that's exactly what's needed.
Coming up next more experimenting, and my dehydrator sits staring at me like some sort of guilt carousel that's begging me to feed it jerked salmon and chili rubbed mango slices. Meanwhile I feel like I'm getting my Girl Scout pharmacist's badge sorting out my mom's pill case. The most often asked question is, can I have a cocktail with that??? Follow along on Twitter @kathygori