Do you ever get a hankering for a certain taste sensation and texture? The other day, I had a sudden craving to eat blistered – almost charred – vegetables sauteed with garlic, preferably made fiery by the addition of something hot and spicy. It could have worked with any number of vegetables – say, broccoli, zucchini, onions or eggplant – but what I happened to have was a bag of frozen green beans.
But don’t think these green beans were coming from a big ole bag of frozen vegetables that had been sitting in a deep freeze for eons. Rather, they were harvested in Upstate New York just a few months ago then sold to Winter Sun Farms, who purchase crops from local farms. They then flash frozen the purchases at their new, state-of-the-art facility, which leaves vegetables and fruits fresh-looking and frozen individually – meaning you can use as many or as few frozen pieces as you desire. Their offerings include everything from sliced peppers, pureed tomatoes, kale and corn, to blueberries and raspberries. They offer a CSA-style service wherein they deliver freshly frozen (summer and autumn) vegetables to various drop-off points in the depth of winter. Sweet! And really, it’s kind of a brilliant idea because in addition to offering out of season produce, it buys up bumper crops from area farms that might otherwise wind up with unsold crops. There are at least a dozen delivery sites around New York City, including two in Queens: Sunnyside CSA and Farm Spot, the CSA in Jackson Heights. But, back to blistered beans…
This is really just a basic stir fry that I cooked until the beans were slightly charred and a bit caramelized. A couple of notes: I used quite a bit of garlic (of course, the amount can be increased or decreased to taste). At the last minute, I decided to turn this into a more substantial dish by adding a small cake of tofu that I had cubed. I did not thaw the frozen beans, but instead blanched them in boiling water before putting them into hot oil in a pan. Finally, I was out of red pepper flakes, so I instead used a red pepper salsa that I had leftover in the fridge from a recent visit to one of my favorite taco carts on Roosevelt Ave. There are infinite variations to this dish – feel free to experiment.
Blistered Green Beans with Garlic and Tofu – 2 servings
1 12 oz. package of frozen green beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (such as canola)
2-4 cloves peeled garlic (or to taste), minced
1 small block of tofu (about 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ x 1″) cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
red pepper flakes (or salsa), to taste
1) Boil a pot of water large enough to hold the beans. Plunge the frozen beans into the boiling water. Leave for 30 seconds and then quickly empty into a colander set in the sink. Let drain.
2) Meanwhile, heat oil in a large sautee pan. Add garlic, stir, and immediately add the drained green beans. Keep the heat medium-high, and continue to stir the beans to prevent burning.
3) When the beans start to wrinkle and begin to brown, push them to one side of the pan and add the tofu cubes. Add the soy sauce (or tamari) and the red pepper flakes (or salsa). Gently toss. Continue to cook until beans are blistered and tofu is browned.
4) Serve with rice, or another grain, if desired.