Our Cookbook of the Month is Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon. With 200 recipes, it is "a super-celebration of beans, always cheap and now chic, too." Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt just loved it: "As good a writer as she is a cook, her notes and short essays are fun, informative and brimming with her inimitable enthusiasm."
But don't take our word for it! Check out this delicious recipe:
Three Sisters Salad with Fresh Corn and Zucchini Ribbons
Corn, beans, and squash, those Native american staples that indigenous people called the Three Sisters, are codependent in the most positive way. They are literally and figuratively beautiful together, in the garden and on the plate. here, in almost pristine purity, they taste absolutely themselves.
You could fancy this up in all kinds of ways, including adding garlic and/or scallion, flavors I usually love; but I urge you to try this one exactly as written with the freshest, most bursting-with-seasonality ingredients you can get your hands on. You want corn picked that day, preferably one of the supersweet varieties. If you press a thumbnail into a kernel, it should spit juice at you.
Fixing the zucchini in barely cooked ribbons makes all the difference in the taste, appearance, and unusualness of this salad. I wait all year for this one.
- 1?4 pound fresh green beans, tipped, tailed, and cut into 3?4-inch lengths
- 1 to 2 long, tender zucchini, ends trimmed
- 2 ears very fresh raw corn, kernels cut from the cob (about 1 cup)
- 1 large garden-fresh tomato, cut in large dice (optional)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1?2 lemon
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Medium to large lettuce leaves (preferably buttercrunch), for serving
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (Use plenty of water, more than you’d normally use for cooking the beans.) Drop the beans in. Let them cook to just a hair past tender-crisp, 2 to 5 minutes depending on the diameter and age of the beans.
2. While the beans cook, use a vegetable peeler to cut the zucchini, skin and all, into wide, thin, ribbon-like strips. If the seeds in the center seem overly firm or the core fibrous, save those strips for another recipe (you can use them in soup or ratatouille). You just want those tender ribbons, some green and some white. Pile the cut zucchini in a colander.
3. When the beans are cooked, drain them over the zuke ribbons. This pour-over cooks the zucchini very, very slightly. They’ll remain a little crisp, but they won’t taste raw, and I guarantee they’ll be unlike any zucchini you’ve ever had before in your life.
4. Run or spray cold water over the zuke ribbons and green beans to cool them, then drain them very thoroughly (I use a salad spinner to get the zucchini as dry as possible). This is essential to keeping things crisp-fresh, not sodden.
5. Place the corn and the tomato, if using, in a large serving bowl, and add the beans and zukes. Toss well. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste, and toss well again. Serve immediately, each portion cupped in a lettuce leaf.
Serves 4 as a starter or 6 as a side