According to a new study done at Ohio State University, naturally bright colored foods help one fight off cancer. I suppose this study just reiterates what common sense has told us all along – that brightly colored fruits and veggies are a healthier choice than dull colored starchy or fat laden foods. I’ve noticed that despite this established fact, most people in the US have a hard time eating vegetables. They think of eating vegetables as some sort of a punishment. I can’t identify or understand this notion of theirs because I absolutely love vegetables. My favorite weekend activity is to get to the Farmer’s market bright and early so I can grab some of the freshest produce. And when I travel to another part of the world, I get the most pleasure out of walking through their local markets to discover fruits and veggies that I am unfamiliar with. One of the best parts of our new globalized world is that now we all get to try things we had not heard of some years ago. I have been in the US for over 25 years and even in this relatively short time I’ve noticed the food revolution that has taken place here – we now get produce from all over the world! When I first arrived here, it was hard to find mangoes and now we get mangoes year-round. It was also hard to find fruits like lychees and Rambutans and now I occasionally find them in our local supermarket! Of course, organic food markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have done quite a marketing job “educating” the American public about exotic produce from all over the world and some people complain about the ethics of it all; but I am not complaining here, I have benefitted immensely from their business strategy – I get to eat delicious things and that in my book takes precedence over anything else. I love going through their aisles to see what new thing I can discover and how I can present that at our dinner table. So this week’s trip to Trader Joe’s produced packets of luscious Haricot Verts (baby green beans) and Haricot Jaune (baby yellow/wax beans). I love the bright colors of both these types of beans so I decided to use them in such a way that their color stayed intact and the dish looked appetizing and festive. So I added some dried cranberries for their red color and some crispy bacon for texture and flavor. These beans would make the perfect side dish for Christmas dinner because of the contrasting confetti colors of bright green and red in it. Apart from the colors, the beans were crunchy and tasted wonderful with the sweet and sour Maple Mustard Dressing.
1. 25-30 Haricot Verts (I used baby green beans but if you can’t find them substitute with regular green beans)
2. 25-30 Haricot Jaune (I used baby wax beans but if you can’t find them just substitute with regular wax beans)
3. ¼ cup of dried cranberries
4. 3-4 strips of bacon
5. 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
6. 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
7. 1 tablespoon of good quality maple syrup
8. 2 teaspoons of coarse Dijon mustard (I got mine from Trader Joe’s)
9. Salt and pepper to taste
1. Wash the beans in a colander.
2. Boil 6 cups of water in a large pot and when the water is bubbling add both kinds of beans to the pot. You just need to boil the beans for 2-3 minutes so that they don’t lose their bright color or crunch.
3. While the beans are boiling, get a large pot of iced water ready and when you take the beans out of the hot water, add them to the iced water to “shock them” and stop the cooking process. Leave the beans in the iced water for some time.
5. While the bacon is getting cooked, you can make the dressing by adding the following ingredients to a small bowl: 1 tablespoon olive oil, one tablespoon maple syrup, one tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons coarse Dijon mustard.
8. Take the beans out of the ice water and place them on a dry kitchen towel and let all the excess water get absorbed by the paper towels. You may need to use a few paper towels to do this. But it is important to get the beans dry so that when you add them to a hot pan, they don’t get “steamed” due to the excess water.
9. Using another dry paper towel, remove all the bacon fat from the nonstick pan in which you had cooked the bacon slices. Add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to this pan and start heating it on low heat.
12. Add the dried cranberries to the pan and stir.
13. The beans need to be warmed up in the hot pan for only 3-4 minutes, so take them out and place them in a serving bowl.