While Deb was away this past week, I thought I'd try my hand at some kind of spontaneous post for our blog. Not sure what I would write about, I conveniently received an invitation to a barbeque, which got me thinking. I needed to bring something. I have been really into making this delicious, simple yet impressive cucumber, tomato and feta salad with mint. When I presented the idea to my friend and hostess, Beth, she informed me her husband would not eat cucumbers. I really wanted to take advantage of the spectacular Heirloom tomatoes I have been buying at Whole Foods.
But several weeks ago, I grilled some string beans which I had marinated in an Asian-style vinaigrette, and they came out fabulous. So, I got to thinking. Why not combine the grilled string beans with some Heirloom tomatoes? Writing this blog with Deb over the past two years has instilled in me a quiet sort of confidence. I've been able to go with my instincts when cooking, rather than always following a recipe. I have more fun this way.
So, I began by tossing some string beans with olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, chopped garlic and minced ginger. (mistake #1 - Later on, I realized later that I used a touch bit too much olive oil). While I let the beans sit, I washed and sliced some beautiful Heirloom tomatoes and left them sitting in a large bowl.
Heirloom tomatoes, ready to go.
I heated my veggie grill pan on the grill. When it was ready, I threw on the beans in two batches. I like to let them cook for about 2 minutes, letting them char in spots but also allowing them to maintain their crunchiness by not overcooking them. (mistake #2 - I did overcook them a little). When they were done, I let them cool to room temperature, and added them to the bowl with the tomatoes.
Grilled string beans
When all was said and done, I was disappointed in the outcome. The beans seemed a little too cooked, and the olive oil was too pronounced. What to do? My vision did not match the results, and I have to say I was hesitant to bring this dish. So, I figured it couldn't hurt to try and remedy the situation. I began by throwing the entire concoction into a colander, to drain out the olive oil. After putting it back in the bowl, I tossed in some salt and rice vinegar to try and add a little "pizzazz" and brightness. I tasted, and added, tasted, revised.
The final result. Would it be successful?? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess.
I decided to bring the dish, hoping for the best. This is the shocking part: my friends who had the barbeque are "foodies" in the truest sense of the word, as are their friends. When dinner was served, I heard two people commenting on how delicious the beans and tomatoes were! I couldn't believe it! I was flabbergasted.
So, the lesson for the novice is this. Once you have the confidence, and learn to improvise a bit, you will feel great! I am by no means experienced in the kitchen. But a love of food and cooking, combined with a certain amount of confidence is a recipe for success!