Tag Archives: garlic

Yard Long Beans with Chile Oil and Garlic Bits

19 Jan

There are certain elements of culinary wisdom that I find difficult to follow.  One in particular is the tenet that garlic should never, ever be allowed to brown, lest it get bitter.  I know, I know.  Bitter bits of garlic flavor-bombing a nice, mellow sauce would be a terrible thing indeed.  But what about tiny little bites of caramelized garlic resting upon a bed of fresh, crisp, slightly spicy green beans?  Sound better?  It should sound better, because it is better.  In fact, it is delicious.

I’ve been wanting to make this dish forever, which is sort of funny for two reasons.  One reason is because I think this dish took me all of ten minutes of actual work to prepare.  The other reason is because I never had a recipe for this dish, I just had a vague idea in my mind of what I wanted it to taste like.  When I found myself at Fubonn last week, standing in front of an enormous pile of yard long beans that had been fortuitously placed almost directly in front of a large bin of garlic (5 bulbs for $1!  Oh, boy!), I took it as a sign to make this idea of mine come to fruition.

Though I can’t claim that every single food-related idea I’ve ever had has turned out quite so well (like the time I tried to make cream caramels with fresh ginger, only to discover that, oops, fresh ginger combined with heated cream = one giant curdled mass of disgusting), I must admit that I am particularly fond of this combination of ingredients.  Crisp long beans get stir fried for just a couple of minutes with tiny bits of garlic that have been caramelized in a mildly spiced chile oil, making a simple, but perfect, bundle of flavor.  I loved these beans so much, I essentially ate them all by themselves for dinner.  And yet?  I was totally and completely satisfied.  Had there been any leftovers, I would have eaten them for lunch the next day, but there were no leftovers at all, not even a speck of caramelized garlic.  I suppose the only way to ensure that there is going to be a healthy serving of these beans around all the time is simply to make them all the time, which, no surprise, is just fine by me.

Yard Long Beans with Chile Oil and Garlic Bits

¼ cup olive oil

2 whole dried red chiles

2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic (about 4 large cloves)

1 pound yard long beans, ends trimmed, then beans cut to half their length

sea salt

In a small pan set over medium heat, combine olive oil and chiles.  Gently heat the oil and chiles until they just begin to show signs of simmering, then remove from heat and set aside.  Allow chiles to steep in oil for 30 minutes to 1 hour, gently smashing the chiles with the back of a spoon every now and then to bruise the chiles and encourage them to release some of their spice.

When you are done steeping the chiles, remove the chiles from the oil and discard.  Heat a very large sauté pan or wok over high heat.  When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of chile oil (reserve the rest for another use). When the oil just begins to shimmer (this should take no more than a few seconds), add the chopped garlic.  Using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, vigorously move the garlic around in the oil for about 15 seconds.  The garlic should not yet start to brown.  Add the beans and stir fry, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes.  The garlic will turn crisp and golden, then brown, and the beans will just begin to lose their stiffness.

Immediately remove the beans from the heat, add a large pinch of sea salt, and toss to combine.  Turn out onto a large platter to serve, being sure to spoon out all of the good browned garlic bits.

Might serve 6.  In our house, it served 3 (I am not at all ashamed to admit that).

Orecchiette with Grated Garlic and Tomato

28 May

When the sun comes out, we leave the house.  Not to, for the one millionth time, make mention of the abysmal weather we suffer through in the Pacific Northwest, but when May begins to draw to a close and June starts to creep up on us, we all start to feel a little cooped up from the previous seven months we’ve just spent trapped indoors by unrelenting rain and gloominess.  You can understand, then, why a rare glimpse of the sun during the month of May (or June, for that matter, because here summer likes to hang out in its pajamas and nurse a few beers on the couch for a while before it finally decides to emerge from its extended time off and finally get to work) will cause people to take to the streets of Portland in a pasty parade of boisterous revelry.

Because you’re contractually obligated to own a bicycle if you live here, we, not surprisingly, spend a lot of our outdoor time traveling by bike to various locations.  We bike to the park, we bike to the baseball field, we bike to the science museum, and we bike while running errands.  If the weather is truly wonderful, we pack a picnic and head downtown to have a picnic on the waterfront.  If the weather very suddenly stops being wonderful and forces us back home before we find ourselves biking through a rainstorm, we unexpectedly unload ourselves from our bikes to face dinnertime totally unprepared.  On the rare occasion that I don’t want to break down and just order Thai food (okay, so I always want to break down and just order Thai food, but budgetary constraints dictate that ordering Thai food several times a week is a ridiculous and ruinous financial strategy), I head into the kitchen and prepare what has become our quickest last minute dinner.

When the summer months actually arrive proper and the garden is bursting with tomatoes, this pasta dish sees a lot of action in our house.  More a handful of ingredients than an actual recipe, the technique (and I use that word very, very loosely here) of making this dish should serve as a nice base for creating a quick tomato pasta.  You boil your pasta water, throw in your pasta, then start on the sauce.  You put some fat (butter, olive oil, both) in a pan, allow it to gently melt, then grate in some garlic.  While the garlic simmers and melts into the fat, you grate up as many tomatoes as you can find, then add them to the garlic.  You simmer the sauce while the pasta cooks, you add some pasta water to the sauce, you drain and the pasta and combine the two, you stir in a bit of Parmesan, season everything, then you’re done.

If you think you’d want the sauce to be more garlicky, use more garlic.  If you want a looser sauce, add more pasta water. Add herbs, add red pepper flakes, add a sharper cheese–no matter what you want to do to this base recipe, it’s pretty difficult to render it inedible.  And, depending mainly on how fast your pasta water can come to a boil, you can have this dinner on the table in around 20 minutes.  Which will leave you plenty of time to, weather permitting, hop back on your bike after dinner and head out for some ice cream.

Orecchiette with Grated Garlic and Tomato

1 lb orecchiette, or another pasta of your choice (I find that the shape of orecchiette is perfect for cradling little bits of this sauce in each bite)

2 tablespoons of butter or olive oil (I like to use a mixture of both)

2 or 3 large cloves of garlic

3 or 4 large ripe tomatoes (or more, if you have them), cut in half and seeds removed

salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese

fresh herbs

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.  While pasta cooks, heat butter or olive oil (or both) in a medium-sized pan over low heat.  When the butter/olive oil is heated, use a small grater or rasp grater to grate the garlic directly into the pan.  Gently saute the garlic over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it starts to melt into the butter/oil and become translucent (about 1 to 3 minutes).

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate all the tomatoes directly into the pan with the garlic.  (You can grate the tomatoes onto a cutting board the add them to the sauce, but, accounting for the juiciness of the tomatoes, it is actually easier and less messy to just grate them directly into the pan.)  Grate the cut side of the tomato, so you end up holding the empty skin of the tomato after all the flesh has been grated into the pan.  Discard the tomato skins.  After you have grated all the tomatoes, simmer sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and browning.  Right before you drain the pasta, scoop out 1 cup of pasta water and add it to the tomato sauce, stirring to combine.

Drain the pasta, then return it to the cooking pot.  Add the tomato sauce to the pasta and stir to combine.  If desired, stir 1/2 a cup of grated Parmesan into the pasta while it is still in the pot, or reserve Parmesan to add later, when serving. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top each serving of pasta with chopped fresh herbs (I used basil here, but any combination of fresh herbs is nice–basil, parsley, thyme, chives) and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4-6 people.

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