Not many people envy the suffocating August heat that cloaks southern Louisiana in a perpetual swirl of steam — of this much, I am sure. But with that steamy heat comes another sort of coat, a wild, hairy, green one. As the sun and rain work their steamy magic, the growing things in these parts seem to go a bit mad. The jasmine vines on our deck appear to grow inches overnight, the basil replenishes its pinched stems within what seem like hours, and the grass erupts in a wild, verdant party every few days or so, despite the best efforts of my lawn-tending husband. The green simply cannot be stopped.
Josie, for her part, is happiest to join right into the green chaos, scampering to the door first thing in the morning, itching to get outside and dig in the dirt. She is so clearly her father’s daughter.
What this means for cooking of course, is that it needs to be both quick (too hot for stove-standing) and alive; our bodies seem to long for food that echoes the green of the ground. One of the simplest ways we’ve captured that greenness lately is with this so-easy preparation for green beans — blanched to slightly soften their crunch, and then tossed with butter, toasted cashews, and honey. Salty and sweet, with that fresh-from-the-garden bite, these beans often find themselves alongside other simply prepared vegetables for a veritable summer garden feast at our house. They also make a lovely heat-of-the-afternoon snack, rewarmed from the fridge, and excellent fodder for a baby learning to explore all kinds of foods.
In any case, I am happy to be taking enough breaks from exam-writing to enjoy the lush end-of-summer growth outside my backdoor, even if just to watch my daughter play in the dirt. I hope one day she will learn to coax living things from it like her dad does. Maybe she’ll even be in charge of our first crop of green beans. Until then, at least she’s happy to eat them.
Green Beans with Cashews and Honey
1 pound fresh green beans
3 T. butter
1/2 cup salted cashews, coarsely chopped
2 T. honey
Coarse salt, to taste
Wash the green beans and snap off the tough ends. Blanch in salted boiling water for just a few minutes, no more than 5. Drain the beans and set aside.
Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling to prevent burning. When it starts to turn the slightest bit golden, add the cashews and cook, stirring, for several minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and beginning to brown. Add the honey, and stir until it melts, another couple of minutes.
Return the beans to the pot, stirring to coat evenly with the sauce. Sprinkle with coarse salt and serve immediately.
–From Come On In! Recipes from the Jackson Junior League, Jackson, MS