Sunday, July 6, 2008

herb vinaigrette

We got both flat-leaf parsley and some lovely dill in last week's share, and I have to admit I'm often guilty of not quite knowing what to do with it all. This week, I made an herb vinaigrette which I used in various ways.

First, what I did: I chopped roughly equal amounts of parsley, dill, mint (from my own herb garden) and scallions quite fine. The total "mince" was probably around 1/3 of a cup. I mixed that in a jar with probably around another 1/3 cup of olive oil, a couple-three tablespoons of red wine vinegar, and some salt and pepper.

I put it over lettuce and radishes, of course.

Then the other day I soaked and cooked some black nightfall beans I ordered from Rancho Gordo last fall. (One of these days I have to smarten up and figure out how to to insert a clickable link for things like that!) Their beans are sensational, both in variety and quality, though they are sort of expensive and not exactly local. There's an outfit here, somewhere on the North Shore, I think, that grows beans -- "Baer's Best" -- that are available at two stores I frequent, Wilson's Farm in Lexington and Russo's in Watertown. They also sell stuff under their label that's not necessarily grown by them, though. They used to have a "Massachusetts Grown" sticker on the ones they did grow, but I'm not certain it's still there. Anyway, they're less than $3 a pound and the quality is also excellent, even if the variety isn't quite as stunning as Rancho Gordo's.

Anyway, that's my bean review, apparently. These black nightfall beans took a long time to soften -- probably 2 hours at a gentle simmer. And since I didn't want them to become pure mush, I was checking in on them frequently for the last hour and a quarter of that. Sort of fussy.

Another side note: my father-in-law gave me a great three-quart pot a couple of years ago (not that I needed another one, of course. . .) with a glass lid, which is great for cooking a half a pound of beans, because I can monitor the simmer. Of course, when I want to cook a larger quantity, it's not as good! Then I use an ancient enameled cast iron Copco pot.

So when these beans were finally tender but not mushy, I drained them and let them cool just a little, and then tossed them with some of the herb vinaigrette, and served it over lightly dressed lettuce. The only thing that would have made it better were some lightly toasted slices of sourdough baguette, but you know, you just can't have everything in this life.

Today, then, I used the vinaigrette (again freshly made) as a marinade for grilled zucchini and portobello mushrooms. I made some simple bread (more on that another day; I'm already pushing it with the length of this post!) and so we had crusty sandwiches with extra sharp cheddar, thinly sliced. Jon had grilled sausage, too, of course!

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