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A Flight of Green Beans

Everything’s coming up green beans in my garden this week. After just a few minutes of picking, we filled my largest stainless steel bowl with perfect tender beans. I lightly steamed them all and then set about deciding how to serve them.

I had some medium cheddar Sheese on hand and some cooked pasta in the fridge, so what could I do but make Mac and Sheese? I usually add some cooked spinach or broccoli to the casserole anyway, when I make mac and “cheese,” so this time I cut some of the cooked green beans into bite-sized pieces and added them instead.

Whenever I make mac and “cheese,” I usually serve some version of “stewed” tomatoes with it, but this time, I combined the tomatoes with, you guessed it, some cooked green beans. Both dishes complemented each other nicely, yet each had its own unique flavor.

For an appetizer, I served chilled green beans with hummus for dipping, using a just-picked tomato to hold the hummus.

To complete my “green bean sampler” I couldn’t resist tossing some of them in my favorite peanut sauce. It was so yummy, it could almost qualify as dessert. And of course, we had enough of everything leftover for lunch the next day.

Easy Green Bean Mac and “Sheese”
I usually prefer making my own “cheese” sauce than using a commercial product, but I couldn’t resist the chance to try some oh-so-cheddary flavored Sheese in this recipe and I’m glad I did. It has a great taste and texture. Recipe by Robin Robertson © 2008.

8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 (8-ounce) package Medium Cheddar Sheese, grated
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 cups soy milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

Cook the macaroni in a pot of salted boiling water until it is al dente. Drain and set it aside in a large bowl.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a saucepan, combine the shredded Sheese, nutritional yeast, mustard, paprika, and soy milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring to melt the Sheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine the sauce with the reserved macaroni and the green beans, and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a lightly oiled baking dish. Sprinkle on the bread crumbs and bake until hot and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
Serves 4

Green Beans with Tomatoes and Garlic
Adapted from a recipe in Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson © 2003, Harvard Common Press.

1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 fresh ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced or 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Steam the green beans over boiling water until just tender. Run cold water over the beans to arrest the color and cooking process. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the tomatoes break down and the flavors are well combined, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved green beans and cook a few minutes to heat through.
Serves 4

My Favorite Peanut Sauce
Adapted from a recipe in Vegan Fire & Spice by Robin Robertson © 2008, Vegan Heritage Press.

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Asian garlic-chile sauce
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup water

In a bowl, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, chile sauce, sugar, and ginger, stirring to blend well. Slowly add the water, stirring, to make a thick sauce.
Makes about 1 cup

On to Summerfest

The 34th annual Vegetarian Summerfest, the annual conference of the North American Vegetarian Society begins on Wednesday. It takes place at the beautiful campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Johnstown, PA, on a picturesque mountaintop 650-acre wildlife preserve. The five-day even is jam-packed with talks, food demos, and entertainment, and the roster is a veritable who’s-who of vegan personalities including T. Colin Campbell, Howard Lyman, Jo Stepaniak, and many others.

On Saturday, June 21, I will be in their company, too, doing a cooking demonstration called Little Bites to Big Bites: Bold Global Flavors for Versatile Appetizers or Main Dishes. During my demo, I’ll prepare several dishes from my latest book, Vegan Fire & Spice that can be used as both appetizers and main dishes and show how to use spices and seasonings from different global regions to enhance everyday meals.

One of the recipes I will be demonstrating is the Seitan Satays with Ginger Peanut Sauce, which you can see in my April 28 post, as well as the Jamaican Spiced Tempeh Nuggets. Amy over at the blog wrote about this recipe in her April 17th post, and included a great photo.

Speaking of photos, I hope to take a few while at Summerfest, and I’ll be sure to share them with you when I return next week. Are any of you planning to be at Summerfest? If you do, please find me, as I’d love to meet you.