Maybe it’s the Asian part of me, but I love getting a good deal. This especially holds true when it comes to high quality food, like the produce they have at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. So how does one go about getting a discount at the farmer’s market you ask?
Don’t worry it doesn’t involve haggling, we’re not buying a car here after all. Just plan to arrive about 15-20 minutes before the market closes down. The timing can be a bit tricky. Arrive too early, and you’ll be hanging out in the sweltering heat, waiting for the discount placards to come out. Get there a few minutes too late, and all you’ll get is a lung-full of diesel fumes as the vendors drive off.
Many of the vendors will be sold out of stuff already, but last weekend, I scored a three pound bag of green beans for $2, a two pound bag of tomatoes for $3, two boxes of baby basil for $5, and 2 pints of strawberries for $7. Not a bad haul for less than an Andrew Jackson.
I was so pleased with my bargain-hunting prowess that I it didn’t occur to me until I gotten home, that I’d just bought an awful lot of green beans. Cooked as a side, it would take me at least 8 meals to polish them off; far longer than the shelf-life these beans that had been sitting in the sun all day would have.
I’ve always said that if I were to try vegetarianism again, I’d move to India. That’s why I did what I always do when I have a lot of vegetables. I made a green bean curry.
There’s a South Indian restaurant in London (who’s name escapes me right now) that makes a delicious “dry” curry with coconut in it. I thought the texture of the coconut would go nicely with the green beans, and since I had half a red bell pepper sitting in the fridge I threw that in for color. If I’d had some curry leaves, I would have thrown some of those in as well.
If you’re of Indian descent, you’re probably questioning the authenticity of my green bean curry, and you’d be right to do so, but I have to tell you, it was delicious. The green beans were tender, but still had some texture, while the coconut gave you something to chew on. The combo of spices, which I picked up from a Gujarati friend, imbued the humble legume with a ton of flavor, while the yogurt took a bit of the edge off the heat.
Green Bean Curry
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
5 whole cloves
2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (2″ knob)
1 tablespoon grated fresh garlic (3-4 large cloves)
1 large onion sliced thin
1 tablespoon kosher salt (less if using regular salt)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tomato chopped
1/2 red bell pepper sliced
1 pound fresh green beans trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
1/3 cup vegetable stock (or water)
1/4 cup plain yogurt
minced cilantro for garnish
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, and cloves. Stir around until the spices start to make a crackling noise. Add the garlic and ginger and give it a coupe stirs. Add the onion, salt and sugar, turn down the heat to medium low and fry stirring periodically until the onions are soft and starting to brown.
Add the cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, coconut, tomato, bell pepper green beans and stock and stir to combine. Partially cover with a lid and cook until the green beans are tender (about 15-20 minutes). You want them cooked longer than if you were just blanching them so they absorb the flavor of the curry, but they shouldn’t be mushy either.
When the green beans are done, taste for salt and spice and adjust as needed. When the flavor is to your liking, turn off the heat and stir in the yogurt. Top the green bean curry with minced cilantro and serve immediately with some basmati rice or naan.