...Pasta and porchetta princess, Sara Jenkins' green bean salad at her new East Village restaurant Porsena (if you haven't been yet, it's cozy and wonderful - like you're eating at home with your Italian grandmother). Jenkins may have gained acclaim for her heftier dishes and love of all things pork, but the green bean salad is a total star on the menu. Fresh, simple, gorgeously green and crunchy--a perfect healthy pick for the first weeks of spring. I recreated her dish at home based on memory and taste. Darn close to the original...
(my version above, Sara's pretty version below)
Green Beans with Fennel and Toasted Almonds
Serves :: 2
1 bunch of green haricot verts (French green beans)
toasted almonds, chopped
1 bulb of fennel, thinly shaved with a mandolin
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 to 3 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons or so of extra virgin olive oil
salt and cracked pepper to taste
Blanch haricot verts in boiling water for about 2 minutes, plunge into an ice bath.
Remove beans and place in a mixing bowl.
Toss in fennel, toasted chopped almonds and red onion (Jenkins actually pickles hers first, which I adore, but I didn't have the time).
Add lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix well and you're done.
You can almost smell spring coming on strong! I'm not looking forward to losing an hour of sleep with daylight savings this weekend, but I'll surely take the sunshine and brilliant hues that are well on their way this month. I'm loving the bright pops of color in these kitchens -- clean whites, baby blues, peeks of hot pink, grassy green and pastel seafoam! Just a little springy inspiration to start your weekend off with. Cheers!
A Term to Get Used To :: Agro-Ecology
There's many a reason I'm a fan of New York Times writer Mark Bittman, but the latest results from his op-ed article earlier this week on something I hope more of us starting thinking about: "agro-ecology." Huh? The term sits right in the same bucket as "sustainable" and "organic" and it's hinged on the notion that smaller, sustainable farming practices can actually feed the world. Shocking as it sounds...and much needed rift from our industrial food industry.
Just this week, the United Nation's representative, Olivier de Schutter, presented a report entitled "Agro-ecology and the Right to Food." He urged that "Agriculture should be fundamentally redirected towards modes of production that are more environmentally sustainable and socially just." He went on to say that agro-ecology supports "small farmers who must be able to farm in ways that are less expensive and more productive. But it benefits all of us, because it decelerates global warming and ecological destruction."
Reconstructing our food system in such a manner is indeed doable and groundbreaking farmers across the country and the globe are making a serious case. Joel Salatin of the Polyface Farms in Swoope, Virigina is one of the most notable examples of this. The documentary film Food Inc. featured his innovative grass-based farming methods to provide animals and the land the best possible treatment (I love the roving “egg-mobile” pictured above). Check out more on the farm here. I’m hoping to take my first trip down there in April when I’m next home visiting my family…so stay tuned for a full report!
Agro-ecology’s an interesting notion ponder - and to start taking part in by supporting your local farmers market or joining a CSA (community supported agriculture). Small steps will add up over time and start making a more significant dent in moving away from big agriculture, industrial farming and food that’s not as nutritious or ethically-produced as it should be.
Thanks Mark for shedding a little more light on this. Hope you all get to hit the farmers market on this sunny weekend!