The markets and gardens are filled with armfuls of vibrant basil.
Military rows of fresh green beans.
Tender green beans and basil.
A Provenςal marriage made in heaven.
Serve this as a side vegetable dish or as a first course. It should be offered warm to best enhance the pungency of the herb. I adapted this recipe from Patricia Wells THE PROVENCE COOKBOOK.
1/4 cup coarse sea salt
1 pound green beans, trimmed either both ends or just the head
1 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly packed, cut into a chiffonnade
1 generous tb spoon extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
A generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
A sprinkle of red pepper flakes
Prepare a large b owl of ice water.
Fill a pasta pot (fitted with a colander) with about 5 quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the coarse sea salt and the b eans, and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Immediately remove the colander from the water, allow the water to drain, and plunge the colander with the beans into the ice water so they cool down as quickly as possible. (The beans will cool in 1 to 2 minutes. If you leave them longer, they will become soggy and begin to lose flavour.)
Drain the beans and wrap them in a thick towel to dry. (The beans can be cooked up to 4 hours in advance. Keep them wrapped in the towel and refrigerate, if desired.)
At serving time splash the olive oil into a large saute pan over medium heat. When the oil is warm add the basil and the beans, tossing to coat the beans and warm the mixture, l to 2 minutes. Season to taste. Serve warm. Enjoy your taste of Province tonight. Bon Appétit!!