Visiting my favorite farm stand is not just about the overflowing bins of corn, green beans, squash and tomatoes. There is another reason I enjoy going there. When I was a kid, I had an inherent trust of people who lived and worked in my neighborhood. Perhaps this was a result of living in a safe place or perhaps it was just a blissful ignorance that is characteristic of youth. Now, don't get me wrong - I wasn't climbing into a car without my parents' consent or setting off to help a random neighbor find their lost cat or dog down a deserted alleyway. I did, however, believe that most people were fundamentally good and well-meaning.
During the peak of the summer growing season, I visit the farm stand about once a week. Sometimes the owner, Mrs. Jensen is tending the stand. Other times it's her daughter or young grandson. As much as I enjoy chatting with them and seeing their eyes light up when they talk about their favorite blue potatoes or their award-winning bread and butter pickles, my favorite time to visit is when the stand is left purposefully untended. I slowly walk from bin to bin, gently running my hand over the smooth skin of the eggplants and the crimson tomatoes, fresh from the garden and covered in a fine layer of dirt.
With my bag filled with enough vegetables to last my family for a few days, I dig out my wallet and move to the little shelf at the back of the farm stand, where those childhood memories of blind trust flood back. Perched precariously on a wooden slat is a large coffee tin, covered in a hand-written sign that says, "We use the honor system. Please put in your money and take your change." Why I am so sentimental about this, I'm not sure. Perhaps it's the Jensen family's deep trust in the friends, neighbors and complete strangers that stop by their farm stand. Perhaps it's the unspoken hope that everyone has more good than bad in them and, when push comes to shove, they will ultimately do the right thing. Whatever it is, I can't help but smile as I peel off the plastic lid and slip in my money.
The last time I visited the farm stand, Mrs. Jensen emptied the last of her green beans into my bag, along with several ears of corn, several zucchini, jalapeno peppers and a container filled with cherry tomatoes. As I drove home with my bounty, I set my mind to coming up with a new green bean recipe. Typically, I like to blanch green beans and dress them simply with some olive oil, lemon juice and salt. That day, I was in the mood for something a little different. Once again, I blanched the green beans and then plunged into cold water to stop the cooking. This time, however, I tossed them with some of the sweet cherry tomatoes and dressed the salad with a light vinaigrette that included lime juice, soy sauce and sesame oil. While fragrant and nutty, the dressing didn't take away from the fresh taste of the vegetables, but rather highlighted their natural sweetness.
For the dressing, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside for 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
For the greens beans, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.
Drain and immediately plunge the green beans into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and maintain the color of the beans.
In a large bowl, gently combine the green beans and tomatoes. Add dressing to taste (you may not need all of the dressing).
Serve or cover and chill for up to 4 hours.
Other green bean recipes:
Cookin' Canuck's Green Beans with Balsamic Roasted Shallots
Kalyn's Kitchen's Green Bean, Tomato & Feta Salad Oreganato
Love & Olive Oil's Green Bean Salad with Goat Cheese Dressing
Lisa's Kitchen's Creamy Potato & Green Bean Salad
Sesame Green Bean Tomato Salad
- For the dressing, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.
- For the greens beans, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and cook until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes.
- Drain and immediately plunge the green beans into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and maintain the color of the beans.
- In a large bowl, gently combine the green beans and tomatoes.
- Add dressing to taste (you may not need all of the dressing).
- Serve or cover and chill for up to 4 hours.