17 September 2008

Rattlesnake Beans and More at the Farmers Market


Closer to Home

After writing about the Saturday market in Murten I couldn’t help but run out to a local farmers market to see what’s in season and available closer to home. A trip to the Camas Farmers Market this past Saturday satisfied my curiosity. The market was smaller than the last time I visited. Fewer venders were set up along 5th Street. Still, while I didn’t show up early there were still quite a few things to choose from. I found a variety of gorgeous produce to use in simple and delicious meals throughout the week.

Late Summer Strawberries

At the first stand I picked up a basket of strawberries. These strawberries were small (by which I mean normal strawberry sized rather than Driscoll sized) fully red, ripe and beautiful. I learned that they were Seascape strawberries, an everbearing variety, and that they were locally grown and pesticide free. They were great for a light sweet ending to our dinner that evening. I took some advice from Sugarlaws and simply rinsed them and served them with Balsamic Whipped Cream. Simple but special, this version of Strawberries and Cream didn't last long. Yum!


Squash and Bitter Melon

I also bought some little patty pan squash that were adorable. I wasn't sure how to cook them but found a quick and simple version at A Veggie Venture and a more challenging but delicious looking idea at Fat Free Vegan. Those are bookmarked for later this week.

I also picked up a couple of bitter melons because I have never tried them. I love their look but am not sure how I should use them. Any ideas?

Bread and Sweet Treats

Across the street I noticed a new baked goods vendor at the market, Svitoch Inc. There I bought a delicious loaf of German bread, and some sweets including these cream filled sandwich cookies and a delightfully flaky wedge of Baklava. The vendor told me that they have just opened a new permanent retail location near 164th and 15th in Vancouver. After tasting my purchases I would say that is definitely a bakery I will be checking out soon.


Borlotto Beans

At the next stand I found a palette of bright colorful vegetables. David Knaus of LaCenter's Fresh Earth Gardens grows beautiful heirloom vegetables for chefs in Portland. His stand offered some interesting produce last weekend and promised more to come. I was enchanted and picked up a variety of bright pink flecked borlotto beans, dark mottled green rattlesnake beans, a rich variety of heirloom tomatoes and some small pretty onions. (Pictured above.)

I found a simple recipe for Borlotto Beans, also known as Cranberry Beans, with Lemon and Olive Oil. This made a great side dish that enhanced the inherent freshness of these shell beans though their pretty pink speckles faded with cooking. I may use the leftovers to make a flavorful hummus later in the week.


Heirloom Tomatoes

I made a bright salad on Saturday evening using the tomatoes and purple onions along with some fresh mozzerella cheese and kalamata olives on a bed of of arugula and baby greens. I sprinkled the salad with an Italian vinaigrette. Then I made croutons from the remains of a loaf of Delphina's olive ciabatta by cutting the bread into cubes and shaking it in a sealed food bag with a tablespoon of olive oil and a couple of tablespoons of shaved parmesan cheese. After shaking well I spread them on a foil lined baking sheet and toasted them in a hot oven until they began to brown. Then I added them to the salad warm, not forgetting to peel up and include all of the little bits of toasty melted paaremsan from the foil.


I picked up enough pretty heirloom tomatoes to try still another salad or two. I found a great recipe at Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy for an Edamame and Heirloom Tomato Salad and thought it would be perfect for the gorgeous late summer weather we are having this week in the Pacific Northwest. I had everything on hand except the fresh shiso leaves so I looked up substitutions. Mint, basil, parsley, even lovage, were suggested. I had basil and decided to give it a try.

The salad turned out to be everything I hoped it would be. I really appreciated the addition of the light green edamame to the vibrant color and hardy texture of the tomatoes. The deep green of the basil turned out to be a nice accent and the Asian inspired dressing was delicious without being overpowering. I know I will make this salad again soon.


Rattlesnake Beans

With my last few heirloom tomatoes I made a vinaigrette dressing to serve over the rattlesnake beans. I used a green skinned tomato and a red one and threw in some slivers of Walla Walla sweet onion along with some thin strips of basil. I thought the sauce would be fresh and pretty with these sassy beans, named for the dark mottled streaks in their light green skin. When I looked for information on these handsome beans I learned that in the south they are also know as “Preacher Beans.” For some reason that made me smile.

I kept reading and learned that rattlesnake beans can be cooked like ordinary string beans and have a nice flavor but when heat is applied their distinct markings disappear and they look quite ordinary. Too bad, and yet the Heirloom Tomato Vinaigrette was quite pretty enough to make this dish a stand out all on its own. Once this recipe was assembled the bright green rattlesnake beans looked all dressed up again and were full of delicious late summer flavor.

As you can see, I left the market on Saturday with my arms loaded though there were still peaches and honey and pumpkins just to name a few of the items I saw but didn't get to. Live music was playing by John Baker as I shopped, offering a nice acoustic guitar background with interesting lyrics. I wouldn’t have minded staying to listen for a while but I wanted to get home with my purchases. As always the farmers market had my head full of ideas for tasty seasonal things to eat and offered a few surprises and challenges as well.


Rattlesnake Beans in Heirloom Tomato Vinaigrette
(adapted from a recipe clipped from the newspaper)

2 small to medium size ripe heirloom tomatoes
8 to 10 large fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup slivered sweet onion
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. rattlesnake or other string beans
Crumbled feta cheese, if desired

Cut tomatoes in half, remove seeds, and chop into small pieces.

Stack basil leaves and roll lengthwise into a tight cylinder. Slice across the cylinder to make thin strips. (For a great how-to post on slicing basil and thoughts on how to use the word chiffonade check out this post on The Pioneer Woman Cooks.)

Combine tomatoes, basil, sweet onion slivers, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.

Prepare beans by washing and removing strings as necessary.

Steam the beans in one inch of boiling salted water for 8 to 10 minutes, or to desired tenderness. Immediately rinse in cold water.

Drain and arrange beans in a serving dish. Top with the heirloom tomato mixture and crumbled feta cheese if desired.

Serve and enjoy!

2 comments:

Alanna @ A Veggie Venture said...

What a haul, Lis! My favorite way to do pattypan is to stuff them - they're so cute!

Grace said...

you hit the jackpot at the farmers market, that's for darn sure--all those glorious ingredients led to some awesome creations! boy, i'm gonna miss summer and its bounty. :)