Living in a desert can sometimes feel disconnected from the popular culture of the U.S.A. because our culture is somewhat wrapped up in the idea of seasons. Long ago, before I met a thing called winter, I thought there were seasons in Arizona and, you know, there are seasons, in the way that it's not the same weather all year. But it's definitely not the stereotypical spring-summer-fall-winter that happens in the Northeast and Midwest. Personally, I feel like those seasons are overrated because why wouldn'tyou want to have a mild and glorious winter? And doesn't fall in those places just feel like an inevitable march towards death and horribleness and gray, endless winter—glorified by describing it as "crisp"?
I also feel like the Northeast and Midwest wield too much power over how this nation defines itself and maybe we can talk about this later because my point here is really that I buy into this definition and, when spring comes, even though spring in Arizona starts in February and is, depending on how you measure it, longish and delightful, although generally lacking in spring things like flowering trees and sprouting flowers from bulbs—sometimes in spring I feel like eating things that are bright and cheerful, even though winter here is bright and cheerful.
Such as: these green beans. The beans are cooked but remain crisp, the gremolata stings your tongue ever so slightly because of some raw garlic and, in my version, capers, but the overall effect is a healthy sort of bracing, making you feel like you should do other spring things, like clean your house or go watch a spring training baseball game. Both of which are things I'll do in the next week.
1 1/2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed off 1/2 c. water zest from 1 lemon 1/2 c. fresh parsley leaves 3 large garlic cloves 3 tbsp. capers 1/2 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. pepper 1/2 c. cheese, either parmesan (grated) or mozzarella (shredded)
To cook the beans, get a pot/pan with tall sides over medium-high heat with a bit of olive oil. When the oil is hot, saute the beans for about 2 minutes. Then, add that 1/2 cup of water, cover the pan, turn heat to medium low, and cook for. 15-20 minutes. Add some more water if needed.
While the beans cook, get out your food processor and make this:
Put the parsley, lemon zest, garlic, capers, salt and pepper together and mince until it looks like this. Once this is done, throw in half of this mixture with the cooking beans. Add the cheese to the other half of the mixture. The Splendid Table used parmesan and I used a cheese blend that is more melty than parmesan—I kind of like how it made the beans clump together but if that sounds unappealing, use the less-melty parmesan.
Once the beans are done cooking (with half of the gremolata), toss them with the cheesy half of the gremolata and start looking forward to your meal in a serious way.
Katie and Mariana have been friends since before high school--but they live so far apart. And they both love to cook! So, this blog is a way for them to stay in touch and tell each other about their cooking experiences.