This weekend, it was our turn to host La Famiglia for soup. I asked my gentleman associate to get a vegetable. He got both asparagus and green beans. We cooked asparagus, and the beans remained in the fridge. A few days ago, I filled a glass container with raw beans to eat with hummus at work. Then I paused. Or… I could leave them in the fridge and make Potatoes and Beans. I put half of the beans back into the fridge. I’m smart enough to not go without any lunch, but I’m also smart enough to know that if you have both potatoes and beans, they ought to be saved for the joy they’ll bring later. Nay, it behooves you to save them for the joy they’ll bring later.
In semi-related news, soup night will be flipping over to barbecue on May 19. Yeah, I know that’s still 7 weeks away, but when brought this motion to the committee, and there was some reticence, my feeling was “impignulata and breaded veal cutlet and potatoes-and-beans”? Yes please. I like to think that it was this that swayed the voting members to approve the summer switch to barbecue/picnic dinner. It may have also been more about not having soup in the heat of summer. You don’t know.
I LOVE Potatoes and beans. Easily my favourite summer food (and certainly in my top 5 familial comfort foods). Whenever I’m hosting events through the summer, Auntie V always brings it, and I’m always happy to keep the leftovers. It’s another super-easy 4 ingredient dish. Potatoes, fresh green beans, olive oil, and fresh mint. Starting in a month or so, you’ll find me barefoot in my pollinator garden harvesting mint for this dish. I highly recommend this – both for the pollinators and your enjoyment of potatoes and beans for the whole summer. Have it weekly. Have it daily. You will not regret this decision.
To the method!
The summary goes like this: Boil the potatoes and the beans, drench with olive oil, sprinkle with fresh mint, salt and pepper, and eat the whole bowl. I’m 90% sure that there is a law on the books that says that if you stab someone with a fork for trying to take your beans and potatoes, your case is dismissed.
The closest I’m going to give you to amounts is “a bowl of potatoes” and “a bag of beans”. 1 part beans to 2 parts potatoes? In my world, it’s the fully random approximation of “How many potatoes do we have? That’s exactly what I need for this amount of beans” So whether you’ve got a paper bag (from the grocery store) or basket (from the farmer’s market) Or the bunch of green beans that you pick from your garden, you’ve got the makings for splendid potatoes and beans. Sidebar: This will finally be the year of the green bean teepee. I’m going to hide in there and eat potatoes and beans all summer. You heard it here first. This is my summer stretch goal.
The longer version goes like this: My uncle Jack, the font of culinary truth in my world, would cook the the potatoes whole, unpeeled, that way they didn’t fall apart if you overcooked them slightly. So I recommend that, if you can, get small-ish potatoes for this. If they’re bigger, you still half or quarter or otherwise cut them into pieces later. To be honest, when I’m on a mission (which is at least 50% of the time I’m making this – likely closer to 80% if I’m being honest with you), I cut them before I boil them. I can feel my Uncle Jack shaking his head at me from the Great Beyond for just saying that. Hey, man, you do what you gotta to get dinner made. And when you put all that oil on there, they’re going to fall apart a bit anyway.
When the potatoes are just about done, toss your green beans in the same pot. When the beans turn bright green, dump it all into a colander to drain. Then, dump into a big bowl to cool. When they’ve cooled some, pour a generous amount of olive oil over them. If they’re warm, the potatoes will soak up the oil, so recommend you let them cool as much as possible. I like lots of oil, my gentlemen associates like less. I usually make it to their taste, and then when I pack it for my lunch, I add some more. Chiffonade some fresh mint leaves and sprinkle them on the potatoes and beans. I plant spearmint, peppermint, lemon mint, and chocolate mint in my garden. The only one I maybe wouldn’t recommend for this is the chocolate mint. But hey man, I’m not judgy. I live by my Uncle Jack’s motto of See what Happens. If you want to try chocolate mint, have at’er. Also, if you don’t have fresh, you could just use dried, or a bit of Italian herbs (See: See what happens, above).
I grind a bunch of salt and pepper on my servings. When I finally stroke out because I ate 3 days of sodium in one meal, there’s a not-zero percent chance that it’s going to be face-first in a giant bowl of potatoes and beans. And I will die happy. It’s good to know these things about yourself.
I know I’m pitching this as a summer side-dish, but I make it all year. It is my favourite not-wimpy “salad” to take for lunch. It’s my favourite thing to stand in front of the open fridge door and eat right out of the bowl with my fingers. That’s pretty high praise, if not environmentally friendly. This is the dish that everyone (including Child, when he was packing lunches for school) wants to take for lunch, and you’re disappointed when someone got there before you. I think you’ll like it. And if you don’t, bring it over, I’ll take care of it for you.
I feel like this is a decent variation (perhaps the difference between parts of Italy?): Italian Green Beans and Potatoes. My cousin Irene makes her potatoes and beans with basil, instead of mint. It’s pretty good too. So, to the motto – Try it and see what happens.
In my wander through the Google-verse, I’ve observed that if you’re in The South, you should add bacon to this. I’ve never tried that, but I feel like anything that says “add bacon” is at least worth an experiment. You know, for science.