Simple Garden Recipes: Tomatoes And Green Beans

Tomato “Steakhouse” Salad.

Green Beans With Chorizo and Cherry Tomatoes.

This time of year, the garden mostly dictates what we cook. A welcome snap of heat brought us early tomatoes and green beans, now we need to use them. The tomatoes are easy; the green beans are a bit more of a challenge. Let’s start with the tomatoes.

Our first tomatoes, the sweet 100s came in and are exactly as you expect, small and sweet. We also got our hands on some early heirlooms, big, sweet and juicy. For the larger tomatoes we usually make Caprese salads, just with an extra dash of balsamic and olive oil. But we also enjoy this “steak house” tomato salad. The recipe is a combination of the onion and tomato salad from the famous Peter Luger Steakhouse in New York and a recipe from Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles.

It is a simple combination of ripe tomatoes (otherwise don’t bother), sweet onion, blue cheese and herb vinaigrette. But the flavors really do sing and are much richer than a Caprese salad. The sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes and onions match well with the rich, tangy blue cheese, while the herb vinaigrette adds tart and earthy flavors. And the mix of soft, crisp and creamy textures make for an excellent overall dish.

Making the salad couldn’t be easier, but a few quick tips that will improve the overall dish. Simply slice the tomatoes and onions, but soak the onion slices in cold water for a few minutes before assembling the dish- they will be crisper and have less heat. Also slice the herbs and make the vinaigrette at the last-minute. The herbs will not discolor and the presentation will really pop. And this dish looks as good as it tastes.

As for the green beans, they are more of a challenge. Their flavor is often very “green” and vegetal, and their texture can sometimes be leathery. The small, young beans are often the best, but our beans ripen unevenly and we tend to have a mix of large and small beans. Happily we found a basic technique and adapted a recipe that makes the most of the green beans and is very tasty. Our green beans with chorizo and cherry tomatoes are so good, even our kids eat them. We consider that to be a success.

Separate small and large beans and cook different times.

Of course, adding pork sausage (or pork fat, for that matter) to a recipe is often a way to increase its appeal. But in this case the rich, spicy sausage, and the sweet tomatoes are a great match with the vegetal flavor of the green beans. As for the texture of the green beans, we simply separate the large from the small beans and blanche the large beans for a few extra minutes before adding the younger, smaller beans. With this simple technique, we get beans that are cooked to roughly the same doneness and have a nice tender texture.

Blanch the green beans.

Brown the sausage and add the tomatoes.

Making the green beans is also easy and takes less than 15 minutes. Simply cut the beans and, if the sizes vary, make separate stacks of large and small beans. Blanch, and then chill all the beans in an ice bath. Meanwhile break up (or slice) and brown some spicy sausage like chorizo or Andouille. Once the sausage browns, add the tomatoes, cook for 1 minute and then add the green beans. Once the beans are warmed-through, season and serve.

Add the green beans and serve.

So even if you don’t like green beans, we suggest you give this recipe a try. It may not be a surprise, but adding tomatoes and/or pork fat to a recipe often yields a pretty good result.

Steak-House Tomato Salad:

(Adapted from Suzanne Goin at Lucques and Peter Luger Steakhouse)

Notes Before You Start:

  • You need large, sweet ripe tomatoes for this dish. Tomatoes from your garden or the farmers market are the right call.
  • Any good, firm blue cheese will work for this recipe. We use Maytag blue, but most varieties will work.

What You Get: A very rich, sweet and tasty salad. A restaurant-quality salad.

What You Need: No special equipment required.

How Long? 10 minutes. Anytime dish.

Ingredients:

(Serves 4)

  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes like early girl or pink Caspian
  • 1 medium sweet white onion
  • ¼ cup (about 4 oz.) blue cheese
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons sherry and/or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil (about 12 leaves)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Fresh black pepper

Assemble:

  1. Slice the onion into 1/8 inch rings and soak in cold water for 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, core and slice the tomatoes into ¼ slices. Slice or crumble the blue cheese into four equal portions.
  2. To make the marinade, mince the garlic and then combine the garlic, oil, vinegar(s) and mustard. Mix until an emulsion forms. Just before service, chop the oregano and add to the vinaigrette, stir to combine. Season, to taste.
  3. Assemble the plates by drizzling some vinaigrette on each plate. Then add the tomatoes and season them with salt and pepper. Add the blue cheese and arrange the onion of top. Chiffonade (roll into a log and thinly slice cross-wise) the basil leaves and place on top of the salads. Drizzle on more of the vinaigrette and serve.

Green Beans With Chorizo And Cherry Tomatoes:

Notes Before You Start:

  • You can substitute diced whole tomatoes for cherry tomatoes, just be sure they are very sweet.
  • Any rich, spicy sausage will work. If using uncooked sausage, remove from the casing, break into pieces and brown. If using a cooked/smoked sausage, cut into small pieces before cooking.

What You Get: A green bean recipe that kids (and guests) will actually eat.

What You Need: No special equipment required.

How Long? About 15 minutes. Anytime dish (when you have sweet cherry tomatoes).

Ingredients:

(Serves 4 as a side)

  • 2-3 cups of green beans
  • ½ pound of spicy sausage like chorizo or Andouille
  • ½ cup of sweet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper

Assemble:

  1. Cut of the ends of the green beans and separate (if necessary) into batches of large and small beans. Cut the beans into 1-inch pieces, on the diagonal.  Slice the cherry tomatoes in half. Remove the sausage from its casing or, if using cooked sausage, cut into small pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring some water to a boil. Prepare an ice-water bath in a medium bowl. Blanch the green beans in the boiling water. Blanch large beans for 2-3 minutes, small beans for 1 minute. Move the beans to the ice water bath to stop the cooking.
  3. Place a large skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and the sausage. Break the sausage into pieces and brown until cooked, 4-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute stirring frequently. Add the green beans and cook, stirring frequently, until they are warm, 1-2 more minutes. Taste, season and serve.
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16 thoughts on “Simple Garden Recipes: Tomatoes And Green Beans

  1. The tomato salad sounds great – as you say the addition of blue cheese would really lift it and give it a rich tang. and as you say, ripe tomatoes are a must, mine are still green bullets!! So a waiting game here :)

  2. Great photos to accompany good, solid recipes. Both sound wonderful! I often cut up a slice or two of bacon and cook a batch of tender beans with it. You’re right about the pork/bean combination being a good one. I love the idea of giving the large beans a head start in cooking…that’s going to be very helpful. Thank you!

  3. These both look fantastic but I especially like the sound of that tomato and blue cheese salad. Yum! Honestly I’ve never had a problem eating green beans… but you’re right, adding pork or pork fat to anything will make it ten times better ;)

    • Thanks…funny thing with the beans, we use similar varieties every year but the texture varies quite a bit as does the “vegetal” flavor (assuming weather effects the sugar content / flavor), as the soil is pretty consistent. But pork fat does solve problems..

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