Every two weeks we get a a basket of organic produce from Culantro Rojo.
The baskets always have a nice mix of things-- bitter greens, plantains, oranges and tomatoes. I love opening the basket and imagining all the things I can make. The unexpected assortment of ingredients presents a great creative challenge; I find myself googling and getting cookbooks out. The produce is lovely of course, but I relish the challenge. I love lifting the lid of the basket and finding something I don't recognize. Tomate de árbol? Bring it on! (fantastic in apple pie by the way). The basket really forces me to try local ingredients I'm apprehensive of. I sometimes have this feeling that certain local things are out of my range--like it would be inauthentic for me to cook typical dishes. This is ridiculous I know, but you wil probably never catch me making arroz con pollo.
Once when we lived in Costa Rica I was invited by neighbours to take part in a cooking contest. I was really honoured and scared (those ladies could cook!). The contest was meant to showcase light and healthy food--it was sort of a health expo. I made chicken salad with mango thinking it was light, but not too outlandish. Of course I was beaten by the pastel de carne (light my arse!) and tamales (which were exquisite). I didn't have a chance; but I was glad I hadn't attempted anything typical because then they would have really laughed at me! All that to say, I'm a little shy about local recipes and ingredients. Look at the silly gringa trying to make patacones!
Anyway, our last basket contained fresh shell beans.
A real treat! There is something so satisfying about shelling beans; it's primeval like kneading bread.
I cooked them in stock and then mixed them with some cooked quinoa, chopped onion, roasted pepper and some olive oil and lemon to make a salad.
The beans were delicious. The flavour is nutty and delicate. They would also be great sautéed with tomatoes and onions.
Next, what I did with the plantains...