In the Raw

Friday, August 26, 2011

   One fateful day several years ago, a good friend of mine decided to eat a whole clove of raw garlic. It wasn't even a silly juvenile dare- he thought he was being a good little health nut!
   You really can't read anything about garlic without being inundated with its virtuous nutritive qualities. There are quite a few sources that insist garlic in its raw state is even more powerful and better for you than its cooked counterpart.
   Well, that harmless clove turned into a spicy, noxious chemical bomb in my poor friend's mouth and I distinctly remember thinking raw garlic would never be welcome on my palate.
   Fast forward several years when I tasted the best green bean I've ever had. Cool, crunchy, acidic and complex with a spicy bite, it was heaven. I was quite surprised to learn that the recipe called for a significant quantity of finely chopped raw garlic.

   I don't know where he picked the formula up, but this dish was first prepared for my family by my brother in law. Since then I've modified it slightly (different vinegar, more mustard) but the spirit of this spicy bean remains the same. It's all taste and crunch, all reward and flavor for very little effort.
   This can be served as a side or a simple mid afternoon snack- you could even gild the lily and sip on a crisp glass of chilled white wine. I ask only that you promise me to try eating them with your hands. For some reason, I can't bring myself to take my fork to these babies. They simply demand to be plucked from the plate with your fingers and finished off with some proper lip smacking finger licking. I think the best kinds of dishes are flavorful, complex, fun and interactive- all things these beans embody.

   On a side note, Steve and I have accidentally made this weekend an all out Carb Bonanza (can you say tuna casserole, lasagna and pizza?) and a big batch of these green beauties are going to be our nutritional saving grace!

 Garlicky Green Beans
  • 1 pound green beans, stalk end trimmed
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 4 medium sized cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons coarse dijon mustard (the one with all the little seeds)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
   Bring a medium sized pot of salted water to boil. Have an ice bath prepared. Once the water is boiling, add your beans all at once. After 2-3 minutes they should be bright green- drain and immediately submerge them in the ice water. Drain again and place in a medium mixing bowl. In a cup or small bowl, mix the garlic, vinegar, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt together. Drizzle all of this over your beans and toss to coat.
   Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry you are.

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