Food trends go out of style with my 9 month old faster than with Gourmet magazine. Just a few weeks ago, purées were all the craze. We liked them all -- green beans, broccoli, sweet potatoes, parsnips, celery root. If you can buzz it, we can eat it. Now, purées are totally passé. We are all about finger foods now. If we can't hold it, touch it, and smoosh it, we are not eating it. The problem is that we only have 2 tiny teeth and can't chew too well. In theory, we should be joining what all parenting books call the "family table." But all those books don't take into account that my green vegetables are still crunchy when cooked, ground beef only makes an appearance in medium-rare burgers, and I probably won't be making chicken noodle casseroles with cream of mushroom soup any time soon.
I haven't found a solution to this "yuppie Mama and Papa bear" problem yet. By the time I do, I am guessing that Baby Bear will have a mouth full of teeth, and she'll be able to eat most of our regular foods. Meanwhile, I am taking baby steps in finding foods we can enjoy together. The latest find is a Provençal style green bean stew. This is one of the few dishes where green vegetables are intentionally overcooked, yet taste irresistibly good. When the stew is done, the veggies are very soft, but retain their shape and are easy for baby bear to pick up with her little fingers.
The trick is using LOTS of olive oil. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, and herbs don't hurt either. I had some new crop potatoes, so I threw those in too. This dish works perfectly well with regular green beans, but I saw Kentucky wonder beans in my produce market and decided to give them a shot. They looked like green beans on steroids and came out very tender and juicy in the stew.
I can't wait for summer when zucchini and eggplant are in season. Ratatouille would make an excellent meal for Mama, Papa, and Baby bear.
Provençal Green Bean and Potato Stew
Serves 4 bears
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp mince fresh rosemary and/or thyme (optional)
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice (preferably Muir Glen)
1 Lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths
2/3 Lb boiling potatoes, cut in half, then sliced 1/8 inch thick (no need to peel)
- Set a large, heavy skillet over med-low heat. Add the oil, onion, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook stirring occasionally until onions are completely translucent and just starting to turn golden, 12-18 minutes.
- Add garlic and herbs. Cook stirring until aromatic, about 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes, green beans, and potatoes. Season generously with salt, stir, cover, and bring to a simmer. Regulate heat so that the vegetables simmer gently and cook until all vegetables are very soft, 45-60 minutes. Don't worry about overcooking. Green beans will turn brown and have that awful canned bean look, but they'll taste heavenly. Trust me. Tastes good hot or cold. Makes fabulous leftovers.