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Pickled Haricots Verts with Herbes de Provence

(recipe, Jim Tarantino)

Introduction

This is the ultimate in refreshing, savory snack foods. I also use this as an accompaniment to grilled seafood. The mustard oil, which carries hints of horseradish and mustard, provides a very pleasant bite to these pencil-thin, fresh string beans. The two levels of tang in this recipe are the result of the Champagne vinegar and the lemon juice added at the last minute.

Ingredients

    Herbes de Provence (see Note)
    1. 4 to 5 Tbsp. dried marjoram
    2. 4 to 5 Tbsp. dried thyme
    3. 4 to 5 Tbsp. dried summer savory
    4. 4 to 5 bay leaves, crumbled
    5. 2 Tbsp. dried basil
    6. 2 Tbsp. dried oregano
    7. 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
    8. 1 Tbsp. crumbled sage
    9. 1 tsp. dried lavender
    Pickles
    1. ½ to ⅔ lb. haricots verts
    2. 1 Tbsp. mustard oil (available where Indian foods are sold)
    3. 1 tsp. capers
    4. ⅓ cup Champagne vinegar
    5. ⅓ cup water
    6. 2 lemons, zested (julienne the zest) and juiced (about ⅓ cup juice)
    7. 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
    8. 1 tsp. herbes de Provence
    9. ½ tsp. coarse-grain salt
    10. 1 tsp. sugar

    Steps

    1. Make the herbes de Provence: Combine the marjoram, thyme, savory, bay leaves, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, and lavender in a small bowl. Stored in a clean, airtight jar or bottle in a cool spot away from heat and direct sunlight, this herb blend will keep for about 1 year.
    2. Make the pickles: Rinse and drain the haricots verts, then blanch them in boiling water to cover for about 3 minutes. Refresh the beans in a bowl of ice water. They should be crisp. Pack the beans upright in a sterile pint jar, and spoon the mustard oil and capers over the beans.
    3. In a small nonreactive saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, lemon zest, peppercorns, herbes de Provence, salt, and sugar to a boil. Decrease the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the vinegar mixture over the beans, top with the lemon juice, and seal the jar immediately.
    4. Keep refrigerated. Let the beans rest at least 1 week before using. They will keep for 2 months if unopened and refrigerated.

    Note

    Herbes de Provence is my favorite wintertime seasoning. I use a pinch of it along with a dried mushroom to give a woodsy taste to my stocks, soups, and sauces. Sprinkle a teaspoon on chicken and add a splash of olive oil with some salt and pepper, and you have a ready-made rub that typifies the cooking of Provençal France.