Harciots verts fines, the French call them, the thinnest, finest and earliest green beans of summer.  Today I picked the first green haricots from our Connecticut garden, a French variety called emerite.  Although green beans will dominate in a few weeks, right now we relish a plate of salad greens topped with emerite and almonds.

The distinguishing characteristics of this pole bean variety are length and girth, or lack thereof.  These beans are straight, long and slender with a sweet flavor that shines whether you boil or steam them. I normally pick the beans at about 6 inches long.  Because they grow ramrod straight, emerite beans make perfect pickles. (You compulsive types, picture a picket fence of upright beans in your glass canning jars.) Because I always plant too many, a number of the beans develop seeds. I let these pods dry on the vine then collect the shiny black beans for the winter. We store them for baked beans or soup.

Lately, the seed company we use runs out of emerite.   We couldn’t get any to plant in May but I found an envelope of dried beans I saved from our 2015 crop. Voilà!  I planted three year old saved beans and it looks like a bumper crop.

Besides turning over the soil in the spring and adding a little compost, I don’t do much work in the garden.  It’s in full sun. On damp days, I tug at a few weeds. I stick poles in the ground for the vines to climb.  I do add an inoculant to the soil, probiotics for seeds, because a friend recommended this for beans and peas.

Given the time I spend in our garden, if I can succeed you can too.

As for this salad. Its a bed of mâche, a French green that grows in tiny clusters. We don’t grow mâche yet but you can find it at Whole Foods and at some farmers markets. Mâche, also called corn or lamb’s lettuce, tastes nutty and lets its presence be know; it leaves a pleasant coating on the tongue.

Toasted almonds bring the flavors of this salad lunch together. There is a deep crunch to slivered almonds that satisfies my hunger especially when you toast them. (Preheat a toaster oven to 350°F. Toast the slivered almonds in a single layer for 10 minutes, tossing once or twice while they cook.) As with many summer salads served at our house, this one is dressed with Mustard Vinaigrette, the same dressing we made at the Restaurant du Village.  And the tiny brown flecks you can see in the photo are mini croutons made from Danish rye bread I’ve been making.  More on that to come.

Kitchen Notebook

A close friend introduced me to Pinetree Garden Seeds in Maine. I recommend them highly. They grow a nice range of varieties and offer them in small quantities for those like me with tiny needs.  We’ve had some duds but negligence on our part may be to blame. Plus, a wise woman never falls in love with a seed because of its name; Bugatti lettuce wasn’t meant for the Connecticut River Valley.