This is a quick post, I just wanted to share with you our delicious dinner from Wednesday night. My mom said she never knew green beans could taste so delicious, and she had seconds. That's really saying something.
Anyways, I thought I'd share my top 5 reasons with you for eating locally:
- The food is almost always fresher, because it hasn't been picked unripe, injected with chemicals to look like the food you want to eat, endure a long trip, and then sit in a grocery store.
- We're supporting our farmers'. Did you know that more than three-quarters of the food industry is owned and controlled by a few select people? Talk about centralized power! Don't you want to do something about it?
- On that same note, we know our farmers. We can see if their employees and animals are being treated fairly, if their soil is properly taken care of, and how they grow our food.
- Going to the Farmers' market is fun. It's not a grocery store pretending to serve you a wide array of flora and fauna from the wilderness, when really everything is produced on Factory Farms and is about as far removed from anything natural as can be. It's using your five senses to breathe in the beauties of the season, the cheeses, free range eggs, and flower. It's chatting with others on how to prepare something you've never seen before. It's getting to know who makes your food, which is a true labor of love.
- It's generally much better for the environment. The Farmers' market sells what's in season, respecting Mother Nature's plans for the soil and harvests. The goods aren't brought from so far away, and a lot of people grow organically or pesticide-free.
On top of all this: the food simply tastes better. Once you go FM, you will never go back. Take these green beans, for example. They're local and organic, and pretty much knocked my socks off. The Italian flat leaf parsley is from our very own garden, and I just can't believe how beautiful it is. The garlic cloves are also from the FM, and are huge and fresh and juicy. Talk about a good down home meal.
Polenta cakes with green beans and gremolata
4 cups water
Salt to taste
1 cup quick-cooking polenta
(Note: this makes quite a bit of polenta cakes for the amount of green beans and gremolata. If you wish to make dinner for just 2 people, you could halve the amount of water to 2 cups and polenta to ½ cup without any problem, following the directions the same.)
1 TBSP olive oil
¾ lb organic green beans (locally grown taste best!), both ends trimmed
⅓ cup water
2 huge cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
½ cup very packed flat-leaf Italian parsley
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 TBSP water, plus additional as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup shredded Parmesan, or to taste
To make the polenta, boil 4 cups of water in a saucepan about 2 quarts in size. Add salt to taste, if you wish; then slowly pour in the polenta, stirring. Lower heat and simmer, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or until the polenta thickens up quite a bit. Don't worry if it's a little lumpy. Remove from heat and spread the cooked polenta on a baking sheet lined with either a silicone mat or parchment paper, until ⅓ of an inch to ½ inch thick. Let cool slightly. Bake in oven under preheated broiler (about 5 inches away from heat), with door open, watching closely for about 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and carefully cut circles using a 2 ½ to 3-inch round cutter. Remove the scraps (I used them as well but placed them next to the circles). Return to broiler and bake 5 minutes more. Then remove the polenta cakes, flip all of them over, and broil 5 minutes longer. They should be a little crispy on either side, and somewhat soft in the middle. If you like them crispier, you could either bake them closer to the broiler or broil them longer, just keep an eye on them. If you wish, you could also cut the polenta into wedges instead of circles.
To make the green beans, heat olive oil in a large (12-inch) frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and a pinch of sea salt to the pan and sauté a couple of minutes or until they start to brown. If the pan gets too hot and oil starts sputtering, lower heat to medium. Add water to pan and immediately cover the pan. Cook 15-20 minutes or until tender.
To make the gremolata, blend all the ingredients except the Parmesan until well mixed (I like to leave a few small chunks). Scoop into serving bowl and mix with Parmesan, adding more if you desire.
Serve the polenta cakes topped with the sautéed green beans and a couple of tablespoons gremolata.