One of the key things my mom has taught me about cooking is the importance of prepping ingredients before you get to cooking. She and I are very different personalities. I am all rush, go, fast, next! She is deliberate, patient, measured.
You see the difference in the way we cut and prep. I’m constantly amazed by how finely she minces garlic and slices up green onions into thin slivers using a dull old knife we’ve had since we were kids. My own ultra sharp chef’s knife zips impatiently through onions and says, “good enough” and “off we go”. Many near misses leave me thankful to still have all my fingers in place.
But still, her method of mise en place has stuck with me. There is a certain peace in cutting and slicing all the colorful ingredients and arranging them on plates to prepare for cooking. The repetitive motions are a meditation in movement that forces a hurried, energetic person like me to slow. down.
Last night I made frenched green beans. My mom always frenched her green beans. When I went out in the world, I was confronted with the bluntly lopped off ends of long whole green beans. Though fast and efficient, this style of green bean lacked the elegance of my mom’s. The texture is even different. Your mouth is greeted with the defiant resistance of a whole bean instead of the tender crunch and gentle give of a bean that has been sliced open along a diagonal. The spices and flavorings more easily have soaked into the heart of the vegetable as it releases all this goodness onto your palate.
I hope you get a chance to slow down and enjoy this simple, healthy dish. Life is so fast and short. Let’s take some time to stop and french the green beans.
- 1 lb green beans
- 3 small tomatoes
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- salt, pepper, olive oil
- 1 handful Cilantro, Basil (optional)
- French the green beans by first cutting off the ends, and then slicing on a diagonal lengthwise.
- Cut the tomatoes & onions into medium sized dice
- Mince the garlic
- Finely mince the cilantro & basil leaves if using.
- Add 1 swirl of olive oil into a pan on medium high heat.
- Add garlic and onions and cook about 3 minutes until onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add a dash of salt.
- Add the green beans and use a spatula to toss and get the tomato/onion/garlic sauce to cover the beans. Salt & pepper as you are sauteeing.
- Cook for about 5 minutes. Green beans should turn a brighter green color. Do not over cook so that you can keep a slight crunch in the bean.
- Top with minced cilantro & basil and serve immediately.