Follow our Food Editor on a summer adventure with a delicious ending.
Late summer, I head out of the city and up north to the hills to house sit in a tiny town in the Berkshires. We have friends in the area and in exchange for feeding a kitty and keeping an eye on the place, we get free run of a garden, the chance to get some grass between our toes, sit around the fire in the back yard and listen to the river run by and generally live the antithesis of our uber-urban normal life.
The homeowner is an artist who is involved with a community art studio in a nearby town. I’ve gotten to know the other artist that directs the studio and in one of those lovely serendipities that happen when you hang out with artists, I stopped by the studio just in time to be invited to a potluck out on a rural farm where she is a member of their CSA. I offered to help with her contribution to the meal; she had some beautiful green beans and while walking around her garden, I saw a tree full of juicy crisp little Asian pears. Thinking of that wonderful contrast of textures when you bite into a little bit of water chestnut, I decided to blanch the beans, then toss them with some lightly sautéed garlic slivers in butter and then mix some sliced pear in for aromatic juicy crunch.
We drove out to the farm in the dusk, past a turkey hen and a couple of chicks, up a dirt road to a beautiful little farm up in the hills. Everyone was eating veggie lasagna and mustardy potato salad and zucchini soup and slices of watermelon before getting their weekly shares of vegetables and cut flowers. Someone’s dog was reprimanded for rummaging in the compost buckets looking for corn cobs to chew and a couple of little girls begged to be taken down to the creek to swim. I wandered around the fields taking pictures until it got too dark. By the time I got back, the green beans were all gone.
Green Beans with Asian Pear
1 pound tender green beans
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic
1 Asian pear
Salt and pepper
Pinch the stem ends off the green beans but leave them whole otherwise.
Cut the pear in half and core it. Lay the flat side on a cutting board and slice the pear into thin slices.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the beans into the water and boil until they are bright green and just tender. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter and slice the garlic into thin slivers. Stir the garlic into the butter with a little pinch of salt and let the garlic warm up and soften. Stir the drained beans into the butter and garlic.
Pour the beans and garlic into a large serving bowl. Toss the pear slices with the green beans and sprinkle with slat and pepper. Serve at room temperature.