Recipe inspiration comes to me in many forms. Random ideas often pop into my head when I’m out walking or taking a shower. I scrupulously study menus at restaurants in search of new-to-me flavor combinations. And a quick scroll through Instagram will have me jumping out of my chair and speeding off to grocery store for supplies in a heartbeat.
But nothing will get my creative juices flowing like a trip to the farm.
A few weeks ago, our chive fields were in full bloom. There was a seemingly endless sea of purple and green that stretched out from my feet for as far as the eye could see. And I was there for the taking (literally). Armed with my camera, a pair of scissors, a handful of small rubber bands and an empty shopping bag, this bumper crop was coming home with me. Well, at least a tiny portion of it was.
I snatched up several bunches of chives and once I found myself back in my own kitchen, I got to work experimenting with their blossoms. I made a chive blossom vinegar. I whipped some of the purple buds into a honey-sweetened goat cheese, which I then proceeded to slather on everything. And I started tossing them into salads, soups and side dishes. Chive blossoms have a delicate onion flavor and so far, I haven’t found a single savory dish that they don’t work well in. The possibilities appear limitless. Also, their cuteness factor is on point.
Today’s recipe for Blistered Green Beans with Apricots and Chive Blossoms is a variation of this green bean and apple salad that I created last September. I also took some cues from Brooke’s brilliant green bean and nectarine pairing, which you can find beautifully photographed and written up here. Her recipe is what really inspired me to give my previous version a facelift for Summer.
This is a dish that only takes a few minutes to prepare and uses a minimal number of ingredients. But it’s anything but boring. There are several layers of flavors and textures, which makes eat bite something to write home about. From the slight char on the still crisp green beans (a cast iron skillet is your best option here for cooking the green beans), to the jam-sweetened dressing, to the fresh pops of purple and orange from the chive blossoms and apricots, respectively. It all just works in an effortless kind of way. Exactly how a Summer side dish should be.
This dish is great served either warm or chilled. And it’s completely dairy free (= no immediately spoilage concerns). Which, in my humble opinion, makes it the perfect dish to serve at an outdoor gathering. Those 4th of July parties will be here before you know it. Time to start planning.
And playing. I encourage you to try swapping out the apricots for peaches, plums or even cherries. And try adding in a handful of toasted almonds or walnuts, if you want more crunch.
I’m sharing this recipe for Blistered Green Beans with Apricots and Chive Blossoms as part of a very special event that’s taking place today on the internet today: the Virtual Midsummer Potluck for Peace organized by Saghar from Lab Noon.
This virtual event is a chance for myself and other like-minded bloggers to stand together and make our voices and opinions known. To deliver a positive message. To say “hey, I’d rather share a dish and a conversation with you, instead of fighting with you”. Or “let’s celebrate all the things we have in common, instead of battling over the things that make us different”.
My voice may be small. But it’s what I have. And I’m not afraid to use it. To say “NO” to terror, oppression and hate. And to say “YES” to peace, love and respect.
I hope you’ll be inspired to make your voice heard as well.
You can find out who all the other bloggers are who are participating in our Virtual Midsummer Potluck for Peace by clicking on this link. Or check out the hashtag #VirtualMidsummerPotluck4Peace on social media. You’ll discover a lot of uplifting messages and stories. As well as some wonderful Summer food and drink recipes that are perfect for sharing.
This post was originally published here on May 29, 2013. I’ve since updated the photos and text.
It’s my Birthday!
I’m 37 years old today. And apparently, I’m celebrating my most recent successful trip around the sun by re-visiting this recipe for Panzanella Salad with Roasted Garlic. It’s a dish that first appeared here on the blog over 4 year ago. And it’s one that I still love to make and enjoy all Summer long.
So…is this what 37 looks like? Is my choosing to post a sensible salad recipe on my Birthday, instead of a towering three-tiered cake covered with chocolate frosting and sprinkles, indicative of old age? Or maturity? Or senility?
Honestly, I’m not sure. But whatever the reason, I’m OK with it. Because I’m pleased to report that 37 actually feels pretty gosh darn good.
So, let’s chat about this salad. It’s a recreation of a dish that I enjoyed (i.e. devoured) at a tiny Italian restaurant on Orcas Island several years ago, back when I was living in the state Washington. And while I can’t remember everything about that exact dish, their use of whole roasted garlic cloves in the salad is what stood out most in my mind. It’s what made their panzanella salad different from those I had eaten in the past. And it’s a trick that I’ve now adopted at home to help take my panzanella salads over the top.
The rest of this salad is composed of your typical Summer staples: juicy tomatoes (get heirlooms if you can!), fresh basil and tender mixed greens. And of course, we can’t forget about the toasted bread cubes. I mean, it wouldn’t really be a panzanella salad without the bread. I usually buy a loaf of whatever happens to catch my eye at the bakery that week. An Italian Pugliese or French Boule are always sensible choices. But don’t be afraid to play with different types of bread. I’ve learned from past experiments that rye bread can really add an extra punch of flavor. Or try cornbread if you need to make a gluten-free version.
This isn’t one of those salads that you can just toss together in a few minutes. It takes time to roast the garlic and prepare the other ingredients. But it’s totally worth it for those nights when you have a little bit of extra wiggle room in your schedule. Because the layers of flavors here are seriously on point.
The original version of this recipe included some buffalo mozzarella, but I’ve since started enjoying it sans cheese. Skipping the mozzarella makes this recipe vegan (just be sure to check the ingredient label on your bread), which means I get to save my “dairy points” for things like ice cream or strawberry shortcake with fancy whipped cream. Because at 37 years of age, I’m learning that life is all about balance.