There are lots of days when I think, "My life is a piece of cake." Then there are others when I stand outside myself and observe, and I think, "!#$%*. I'm exhausted." Today was one of those. One of my biggest pet peeves is when we use the phrase, "I'm so busy!" as some kind of currency that validates our importance, even our very existence. So I'm not into that. All the things I'm doing I have chosen. BUT (you knew this was coming), sometimes I wonder at the extraordinary amount of presence, energy, and coordinating prowess it takes just to live one day in the year 2010. Congratulations. You and I are still here at the end of another day.
And my garden is still growing. I've been a little mum about it this year, but my sweet little plot is thriving. Kale, two kinds of arugula, radishes, spinach, hot peppers, tomatoes, carrots, bush beans, romaine, herbs. My relationship to it has grown healthier over the 4 years I've had it. It used to be that when something got neglected or overgrown, I would either ignore my whole garden for the rest of the summer or rip the imperfect object out. (Lord! Someone take that girl aside and talk to her!) Now, I'm discovering that five minutes of weeding or pruning goes a long way. I don't need to devote tons of discrete time to it. I just need to notice and engage periodically. Tons of lessons and metaphors in there.
Today, I looked closer at my beans and saw the overnight bounty. Since the beans are exactly similar in color to the bush, I've found I can miss the moment. Really, what is better than reaching down, finding that long, soft pod, and pinching it off?
This (or some version of it) is my go-to salad for summer potluck and BBQ's. (I said that about this salad, too. I'm allowed to have two.) The potatoes make it hearty and gluten-free, the green beans make it crunchy and beautiful, and the olive oil dressing satisfies the mayo-haters of the world. (God bless 'em, I just can't relate.)
Wherever you are tonight, I hope something in your life is growing--your garden, your children, your sense of purpose or the amount of time you spend focusing on beans instead of weeds.
Potato and Green Bean Salad with Loads of Herbs
Serves six as a side dish. There are lots of other things you can add to this salad--toasted walnuts or pecans, feta, chevre, thinly sliced red onions. VERY IMPORTANT: Don't toss salad with the dressing until right before serving, as the beans will react with the lemon juice and turn brown if they sit too long (like more than a couple hours).
2 lbs. small, tender potatoes (I used some darling little Yukon Golds from the market)
1 lb. green beans, trimmed
2 large garlic clove, minced
zest and juice of one large lemon
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Couple handfuls of fresh herbs--I used oregano, lemon thyme, and mint
Wash and boil potatoes until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool.
Blanche green beans until just tender--1 minute if they're very thin, 3 minutes if they're beefier. Immediately drain in a colander and run cold water over them so they stop cooking. Don't space out here. Mushy green beans will wreck this salad.
To make dressing, combine garlic, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper. Whisk olive oil in a stream until emulsified. Dump half your fresh herbs in and whisk a bit more.
Right before serving, combine potatoes, beans, and dressing, tossing gently with your hands. Scatter remaining herbs over the top and serve at room temperature.