Here are two recipes from Carla Hall’s new cook book, “Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World.”
Roasted Green Beans with Basil
My motto for roasting green beans: the hotter, the quicker, the better. They get nice and charred and there’s great flavor in that brown. If there’s anything I’ve learned about Italian food from my “Chew” co-host Mario Batali, it’s that vegetables should be treated simply to let their natural sweetness shine. This recipe does just that.
1 pound green beans, trimmed
8 garlic cloves, unpeeled, ends trimmed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, cut in half and then into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
1/4 cup sliced fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the green beans and garlic cloves with 2 tablespoons of the oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange them in a single layer on one side of the pan. Arrange the onion slices in a single layer on the other side of the pan and rub with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt over everything. Roast until the green beans are browned and tender, about 25 minutes.
Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into a large bowl, and mash them. Then add the green beans, onions, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Toss well, then toss in the lemon juice and serve.
Last Supper Buttered Tarragon Peas
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 cups cooked fresh peas or thawed frozen peas
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 cup water
In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the shallots are just translucent, about 1 minute. Add the peas, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring, until heated through.
Add the tarragon, thyme, lemon zest, water, and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Cook, stirring, until the peas are glazed, about 5 minutes. Garnish with tarragon leaves and serve immediately.
One of my favorite French techniques is combining butter and water to gloss fresh vegetables. Butter makes the sauce creamy and the water keeps it from becoming too rich.
To get my beloved lemon in here, I add zest to the glaze. Fresh juice would discolor the peas and the zest adds a nice floral note.
When I first made this recipe, I thought, “Why waste my time thawing frozen peas?” Well, I learned the hard way. If you throw frozen peas into a hot pan, they clump and cook unevenly.