I've been watching the beans swell in the bean patch and calculating when the time might be ripe for a harvest. The moment arrived yesterday with friends coming for dinner. I was amazed to see what a bounty my little plants had provided.
These are the Italian Romanette variety, a wide and flat bush bean I prefer for its gentle texture and meaty flavor. They always remind me of the year I spent in Switzerland when I was a youth. My host mother would cook a great heap of these beans in the pressure cooker until they were nearly falling apart and weeping with flavor.
My own plants--really just a small patch in a far away bed in the garden--were so heavy with fruit, they literally had fallen to the ground. I harvested close to two pounds in no time at all and began planning a prominent spot for them on the menu.
When our friends arrived we had a fresh guacamole displayed in our molcajete with blue corn tortilla chips. We also composed a relish assortment of pickled beets and pickled green tomatoes along with some of our latest deli-style dills and the refrigerator pickles that are now perfectly brined.
Dinner began with a platter of squash carpaccio with fresh Maryland goat cheese. I grilled a flank steak very simply with our favorite dry rub and served that with our own potatoes, browned and tossed with caramelized onions, and the green beans, cooked in salted water until tender, then tossed with sweet butter and finely chopped mint.
As usual, my wife presented a stunning dessert: cherry granita parfaits layered with almond-infused whipped cream and drizzled with aged Balsamic vinegar. We could not have ordered a more pleasant summer evening on the back deck.