Monday, July 11, 2011

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be Marie Simmons

Last week I had the extraordinary opportunity to meet one of my culinary role models, Marie Simmons. If you don’t know about Simmons, you should. Simmons was a contributor to Bon Appétit magazine for 18 years via the “Cooking for Health” column. She has won numerous awards for her cookbooks including the James Beard Award and the Julia Child Cookbook Award. Beyond her culinary expertise, Simmons was a warm, approachable, and learned speaker, displaying a thorough knowledge of ingredients, techniques, and flavors. I could go on and on about how admirable Simmons is, but when it comes to cookbook authors, food speaks louder than words.

It was with high expectations that I cracked open Simmons’s latest work, Fresh & Fast Vegetarian. Simmons is not a vegetarian, but she has a deep respect for vegetables, grains, and legumes. Her recipes are extraordinary in every sense of the word, deviating from standard flavor and texture combinations. At her signing, I had the opportunity to taste the Black Rice, Mango, and Sugar Snap Salad; Green Bean, Corn, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad; Shredded Tuscan Kale Salad; and Cabbage, Pineapple, and Peanut Salad. They were all totally mouthwatering, and this is coming from someone for whom no love is lost with salads. I actually can’t wait to make all of Simmons’s recipes, starting with this Warm Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Mint.

Warm Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Mint

12 ounces green beans, cut into 2” pieces
Kosher salt
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup finely chopped mint
1 pound tomatoes, cut into 1/2” wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper

Steam the green beans in a pot or microwave. Lightly crush the clove of garlic, and rub the inside of a medium bowl with it. Add the hot green beans to the bowl along with the mint. The heat from the green beans will allow the garlic and mint to bloom with flavor. Add the tomatoes, oil, salt, and pepper, and toss gently. Especially delicious served warm.

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