When haricots verts, those pencil-thin green beans, make their early-summer appearance in farmers markets, I get about as excited as when I see sour cherries. Something has to happen, and fast. They’re so delicate that they start to go limp after even just a couple of days in the fridge, and then what’s the point? I might as well use regular old green beans.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But what’s special about haricots verts is that very delicate nature, a quality that Clotilde Dusoulier in “The French Market Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter, 2013) refers to as their “youthful bounce.”
Dusoulier, you may know, is the wildly popular blogger behind Chocolate and Zucchini, and with her charming new book she is showcasing, as the subtitle puts it, “Vegetarian Recipes From My Parisian Kitchen.” She’s a flexitarian these days, but with the cookbook she wants to show readers how to coax flavor out of the best locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables without relying on meats (mock or otherwise) or heavy amounts of cheese or even too many carbs.
That’s the way I’m trying to cook, too, so as I flipped through Dusoulier’s charming book, a recipe for a green bean, red rice and almond salad demanded to be made. It happens to be vegan, but in keeping with Dusoulier’s understated delivery it’s not labeled as such.
Nonetheless, it was a clear choice, because I had every ingredient on hand and didn’t need to hit any market, French or otherwise. Dusoulier starts with leftover cooked rice, but the Bhutanese variety I had in my pantry takes just 20 minutes, so I didn’t feel behind in the slightest.
In about the time I steamed the beans and made the dressing, it was ready for assembly — and my dinner companion and I were ready to eat.