When "The Modern Menu" came across my desk I was intrigued. The subtitle was "Simple. Beautiful. Kosher." Author Kim Kushner delivers a fresh take on centuries-old kosher cooking in this thoroughly modern approach. The photographs are beautiful, and the food is so appealing you want to rush into the kitchen and cook up dishes like Chicken with Pumpkin, Figs and Honey, Mediterranean-Style Sea Bass or this delicious tangle of green beans glistening with an Asian peanut butter dressing.
These green beans take the place of Asian-style noodles and do it well, with a crisp texture and a creamy dressing. The author suggests using the thin haricot vert bean, regular green beans or even yellow wax beans. Haricot vert is a very slender young green bean that doesn't need cutting into thin strips. Slicing the large green or wax beans in half makes them resemble noodles for a fun reinterpretation of the basic ingredient. If you want even more color, why not add some shredded carrots or thinly sliced red or yellow sweet peppers?
Sesame Green Beans
1 pound haricots verts, trimmed or green beans or yellow wax beans, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 heaping teaspoon tahini
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons freshly snipped chives
1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a rapid boil. Add the haricots verts (or other beans) and cook until bright green, about 3 minutes, depending upon their size. Transfer to a colander to drain and rinse under cold water. Place the beans in a serving bowl.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, peanut butter, tahini, sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Pour over the haricots verts, toss to mix and let sit for 20 minutes. Garnish with the sesame seeds, pepper flakes and chives, and serve.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Holidays," and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at http://www.seriouslysimple.com.)