French Produce: Herbs, Beans and Greens

By: Sara Levine

We're teaming up with other food and garden bloggers to host Summer Fest 2010, a season-long garden party. Each week we'll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you're harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. To join in, check out awaytogarden.com.

We’re celebrating Julia Child’s birthday with a week-long ode to French food, so it's only fitting to give this week’s Summer Fest themes—herbs, beans and greens—a little French flavor, too. While la cuisine francais may trigger thoughts of buttery croissants and rich sauces, fresh produce also plays a major role.

Laura Calder is another non-French champion of French cuisine—she’s Canadian; Julia was American. Both fell in love with France while living abroad, attended culinary school in Paris, and returned home eager to share everything they’d learned about French cooking.

Sure, Laura makes pastries and beef bourguignon, but for she’s also got plenty of recipes for fresh, summery fare. Here are three French-ified ways to use your bounty of herbs, beans and greens.

Laura turns green beans (above) into an addictive dish by adding a touch of crème fraiche and toasted hazelnuts, plus handfuls of fresh parsley and tarragon. Try to find the small, skinny beans— haricots verts—if you want to get authentic about it.

This dish proves that watercress is not just for tea sandwiches eaten by ladies-who-lunch. Quickly sautéed with ginger, garlic and tomato, these peppery greens make a healthy and flavorful side.

Even parsley, often considered the most pedestrian of herbs, can turn boring-sounding boiled potatoes into a vibrant side dish.

What are you cooking with your herbs, beans and greens?

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