At the risk of sounding like Mr. Miyagi, we’d like to propose the idea that cooking’s mostly about mindset. Yes, technique is important, but it’s also rather easily learned. What’s sometimes harder to get our minds around is the willingness, the vulnerability, and the flexibility required to get dinner on the table. I’m tired… I’m afraid no one will like it… I don’t have the right ingredients. For most of us, the willingness is a given. We know what’s at stake – health, family, connection, deep, everyday pleasure. Vulnerability can be a little more challenging, but if you’re reading this, it means you know that good ingredients are a failsafe – take food that’s ripe and real and do as little to it as possible, and you’ll make people happy. What about flexibility, then, in a world of recipes and pedantic how-tos? Here is where the fun really begins, where you go from novice kid to kitchen sensei. Recipes might sound like they are carved in stone, but we like to think of them as mere suggestions. Real cooks know that any recipe with pears can be made with apples, lemon juice can stand in for vinegar, and leeks switched out for onions. Collard greens and kale? Same, same. When we create our recipes each week, we do so with the idea that you’ll adapt them for what you have on hand; they’re starting points for your palate and pantry and vision. The end goal is connection, not perfection. Are your people gathered around the table, enjoying a meal, sharing stories? Well, then, you’ve already mastered it: for life, not for points.
Beans and Greens with Caper Vinaigrette
1/2 pound green beans, stems removed and steamed until just tender
2 Louisiana shallots, minced
1 small bunch of greens (use chard, broccoli rabe, bok choy, collards, kale)
1/4 c olive oil
3 T capers, drained and patted dry
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, toss green beans with shallots. Set aside. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet until hot. Add capers and fry quickly. Add greens and immediately remove from heat. Toss greens in hot oil until the are slightly wilted, then scrape greens along with capers and oil into the bowl with green beans. Toss all together and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve at room temperature with crusty bread or as a side dish to a hearty vegetable or chicken stew.