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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Green Beans and Potatoes

My green bean crop this year has been prodigious. Well maybe I should say, my green bean plants have been prodigious, taking over several sections of my garden. Even the so-called bush beans have put out tendrils stretching across and over rows of gladioli, kohlrabi, and dill. In fact, it wasn't until I ruthlessly pruned the beans--actually, just started yanking out a fe plants at strategic places--that they really started to bear.

And have they been bearing! I planted two rows, each only about 3 or 4 feet long, and now have been picking over a quart of beans every day. Even after sharing much of this bounty with friends and family, finding ways to use so many beans has been a challenge. I don't own a pressure canner so won't can these low-acid vegetables, and my freezer space is limited due to a very healthy raspberry crop again this year. This means green beans are on the menu several times a week, so finding new ways to prepare them helps avoid too much monotony.

Naturally, just nibbling the tiniest of beans straight from the plant is still one of the joys of having a garden, and my grandsons love wandering through the garden, picking green beans along with cherry tomatoes and raspberries, as they go. But there are many more ways to enjoy the beans, and I've include several of these in earlier blog posts.

Lightly steamed with a few fresh herbs and a little salt, green beans go well with pork chops or chicken. Then there is a family favorite, roasted beans, also is a great match for many kinds of meat dishes. You can find that here:

Another variation, with tofu, has worked well when there are vegetarians at the table. Combine this with rice and a light salad for a thoroughly satisfying meal.

Today,  I was looking for something else. Scouring the internet turned up dozens (hundreds?) of green bean and potatoes dishes, so I decided to give the combination a try and came up with a quick dish that would work well for either lunch or dinner.

What makes my version unique, compared to the recipes I did review, is the use of the microwave to speed up the overall preparation. I am not sure why so many people are so resistant to using the microwave for more than just reheating prepared foods. Preparing vegetables in the microwave is very similar to steaming on the stovetop, with nutrients more preserved than the traditional pre-cooking/blanching in recipes like this.

Served with fried eggs and a light salad (or just some carrots as shown in the photo), this makes a complete vegetarian meal at relatively low cost--especially if the beans are fresh from your own garden!

Add a  fried egg with salsa and a few baby carrots, and you have the makings of a balanced, nutritious meal.
Green Beans and Potatoes

10 to 12 oz (about 2 c) fresh green beans; leave whole if small or cut into about 1 inch pieces if the beans are larger
1/4 t garlic powder, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 t Italian seasoning
cannola oil
1/4 small onion, or more to taste, diced
1/4 red or yellow bell pepper, diced (optional)
2 medium or 1 large all purpose potato, scrubbed and thickly sliced
seasoning salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash the beans, remove stem ends, and cut into 1 inch pieces if desired.

2.  Place the prepared beans in a microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle with garlic powder and Italian seasoning and pour a tablespoon or two of water over the beans. Cover lightly and microwave for 3 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, heat enough canola oil in a large skillet to barely cover the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes, onion, and pepper. Spread evenly over the bottom. Continue to cook over medium high heat for about 4 to 5 minutes, until the potatoes are beginning to turn golden and crisp. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and turn. Continue to cook another few minutes.

4.  When both sides of the potatoes are golden, but not completely cooked through, add the beans and any remaining liquid. Stir in gently, cover the pan, and continue to cook another few minutes until the potatoes are just tender.

Serves 2 to 3.

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