Friday, June 22, 2012

Romano Beans with Oregano

One of my favorite parts about living in the Shenandoah Valley is the local food movement.  We have constant access to unique, fresh, delicious foods and we love exploring the different farms, producers and farmers markets.  I have a rating system in my head of which farmers markets, farms and farm stands I like best and when they're open.  It's like an excel spreadsheet in my brain.  For food.

When we moved to Staunton, the Staunton farmer's Market became my favorite.  Every Saturday morning Darwin and I would walk down.  First stop would be green beans to bribe Darwin for good behavior.  If he didn't get green beans first thing, he'd resort to rooting through the bins at each of the stalls looking for them.  Zucchini and peppers are also acceptable substitutes in the world of Darwin.  The best part about the Staunton Farmers Market?  The producers.  By and large the stands are run by the producers and the farm's owners.  They take the time to get to know you and your own personal tastes, will make recommendations, and share their green beans with your dog (maybe that's just me....)

Rockbridge has a farmer's market Saturday morning and Lexington has one Wednesday morning.  I've made it to the Wednesday one once and there was an excellent farm stall with the most delicious purple cauliflower I have ever had.  Bonus points that it was PURPLE.  Unfortunately, I normally spend my Wednesday mornings "persecuting" (as one defense attorney likes to call it).  Lucky for me, Saturday's market is exactly what I love; friendly local farmers telling you all about their food.  They also have someone who sells fresh caught trout which makes me ridiculously excited.  Fresh fish is not easy to get over here.  I'm going to have to start paying more attention to which farms everything comes from so I can share with you guys, but we are constantly finding new and interesting veggies, some I have never seen before.  We're also meeting amazing people who can tell us all about the food, their family farms, and their community projects.  We regularly run into the chef from Brix with trash bags full of greens.  Excellent reminder as to why we LOVE that restaurant.

The point of that long winded story?  I saw something that looked like green beans and were called romano beans and figured what the heck.  I definitely need to eat those.  When I started googling recipes I learned that they aren't that common, which I am adding to my list of why I love our farmer's market.  After some tweaking I came up with a recipe, mostly borrowed from the LA times website.  Dan and I both thought that the romano beans tasted kind of like anise and a little like mint.  Yummy and delicious, not a snap pea and not a green bean, a little like both.

1 lb romano beans
1 tbs olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbs fresh oregano, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/2 a can of tomatoes, drained and diced (you can also use 1/2 cup of grape tomatoes, halved)

Rinse the romano beans, then snip the ends off and remove the string running along the back of the pod.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  When it starts to boil, throw the beans in and blanche them until al dente.  The recipe called for five minutes, but for me it wound up being closer to ten.  Drain in a colander.

Heat the tbs of olive oil in a pan.  Sautee the garlic and oregano until fragrant, about two minutes.  Add the beans and cook approximately 10 minutes, until tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the tomatoes and cook approximately two minutes. Remove from heat, finish with balsamic vinegar and allow to sit for a minute or two.

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