Polenta with sauce, bean salad
I went to the Giants game Wednesday and around the sixth inning, just after the the sun came out of the fog, texted my sons and sibs: “At the ballpark on a sunny September afternoon with beer and peanuts. Lovely.”
Tom replied, “Stylin’ you R.” True that. And the Giants won behind Timmy and two Beltran home runs, one his 300th career dinger and the ballpark’s 59th Splash Hit.
Home at nearly four. I had planned to do fish chowder or soup or something with the leftover Black Cod, but that would take some thought and energy, and why spoil a perfectly mellow day with that? I’ll just open a package of Fatted Calf Sugo di Carne. They call it, “rich and hearty meat sauce with a bite.” (Made from naturally raised pork and beef, pork broth, organic carrot, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, wine, sea salt and spices.) To me, this is an “emergency sauce” and I like to keep some on hand, in the meat drawer or freezer for just such an occasion. This time, I squeezed out 1/3 of the one pound package. I’ll just portion that over polenta. Again, in the spirit of mellowness, I walked down to Real Food and bought a tube of Food Merchants Organic Polenta. I could probably have made polenta in the time it took to go to Real Food, but I needed milk anyway, so what the hell. Celebrate sloth.
To go with, I have the leftover green bean and tomato dish from yesterday (recipe below). Yesterday, it was served hot to go with ham hash, but today, I’ll make a salad of that mixed with the prim manteca beans from Iacopi Farm I have in the fridge.
A word about those prim manteca beans:
I like them because they are the best “white beans” I’ve ever tasted. The only place I know that they are available is the Iacopi stand at the Farmers Market. Louis Iacopi told me that an acquaintance in England sent these beans to him and asked if he could grow them on his Half Moon Bay farm. He could, and was invited to just go ahead and spread the word. They are purported to be “gasless,” though as noted above, that’s not why I eat them; I eat them because they taste great. I checked them out on the internet at the site of a U.S. seed house, and a USDA research paper, both citing ease of digestion. But I digress.
The final component of dinner is lettucey greens. Mark Bittman taught me to serve grilled skirt steak ”hot over Romaine.” I found that to be a nice touch for a number of foods. In this case, I used a shredded lil gem, a few leaves of ancho cress and a slice of radicchio.
So: fried polenta drizzled with sugo di carne, mixed green bean, prim manteca bean and tomato salad, all served over greens with Cline California Zinfandel. That’s a nice, quick, easy, mellow dinner. Even Carol said so.
Green Beans, Tomatoes and Pine Nuts
Adapted from the Heyday Country Market Cookbook
Adjusted over the years.
The cooking of this dish can span the spectrum of taste, from bright and crisp to comfortable as an old shirt. I like mine on the comfort side — not cooked to death, but way mellow and full in the mouth.
1 1/4 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed and rinsed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large shallots thinly sliced (generous 1/2 cup) (more shallots are better than less)
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
Steam (or boil) the beans for 7 minutes or until tender. Drain, and immediately immerse in cold water to stop the cooking and set the bright green color. They can rest at room temperature for a couple of hours. Cut the beans into one-inch pieces.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and pine nuts, and sauté until the shallots are lightly browned and begin to crisp and the pine nuts are lightly colored, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and green beans. Toss together and cook until the tomatoes break down a bit and get creamy. Season to taste and serve immediately.
To make a nice bean salad from the leftovers, add the right amount of cooked “white beans.” Mix with a splash of prepared salad dressing such as Newman’s Italian or your own vinaigrette.