In & Out of the Kitchen: Beans, beans everywhere … asparagus, too

Some of the too-much asparagus.

Some of the too-much asparagus.

I don’t want to see another green bean for a long time. And now asparagus joins the list of vegetables I’ve had way too much of.
You see, in January I’d planned a special meal for a crowd to celebrate husband Eric’s birthday.

I had an enormous rib roast, for eight people at least, and bought a bag of potatoes to mash and green beans.

Only I’d bought haricot vert, the skinny, elegant cousin of our regular green beans. Bon Appétit magazine says they’re “fancy, classy, French,” and reminds us that haricot vert is the literal translation of green bean.

No one on the internet seems to agree on the plural form of the term. I sort of remember from French class, which I often skipped, that you make the first word of the term plural, not the second, like we do in English in cases of “attorneys general” and the like. I might have missed one too many classes, because the English-French dictionary online says the plural is haricotS vertS. Bon Appétit disagrees; they only add an S to the second word.


The regular green beans you buy loose in the produce section, or in bags, perhaps ready to steam, Bon Appétit calls a little “shorter, fatter, hardier,” which doesn’t sound like a compliment.

I digress. The point is that just before the big to-do, the number of positive COVID cases in the Capital Region reached eye-popping numbers. I got sick and was tested (negative) by a nice overworked doctor who advised me to stay at home “for the next six to eight weeks” if at all possible.

That was a few days before the party. I’d already shopped, but I canceled.

The roast took up an enormous amount of real estate in my freezer until we could all meet again to celebrate. The potatoes could keep in the cellar, and we eat salad every day so we’d go through most of the lettuce, but I had bought a lot of fancy green beans.

I suppose I could have frozen them. I tried to offload some on the neighbors, sending artsy photographs of them arranged appealingly, but no dice. We weren’t going anywhere or seeing anyone, so I was stuck with them.

We ate a lot of green beans.

On the upside, they sure keep a long time in the refrigerator — weeks. I was able serve them on the side maybe twice a week. In addition, I snuck them into pot pie and soups. In the end, it was way too many green beans, even the fancy-pants ones. I haven’t bought any since.

We had the meal eventually. I think I made glazed carrots for the vegetable. Eric was happy to stretch out his birthday over months.

Skip to last weekend. I’d assembled a gathering of like-minded friends to meet one another at my dinner table and was quite looking forward to it. I planned stuffed chicken breasts wrapped in bacon, a crowd-pleaser; asparagus; green salad; and a batch of fresh dinner rolls. Snacks before and two kinds of cookies for dessert.

I bought special chicken breasts and Nueske’s bacon at the fancy market, along with two bunches of skinny asparagus, which is everywhere this time of year. And I was making fresh dinner rolls the morning of the event.

Before I had a chance to start the rolls that day, I got a text from Patrice. She was sick: chills, fever, stuffy nose, the works. Her whole family was exposed to COVID at a birthday party a few days prior. So she and her husband couldn’t come.

I threw the chicken and the bacon into the freezer, and the rest of us had nice steaks that Eric picked up at the fancy market and cooked expertly on the grill. With roasted, quartered and seasoned young Yukon Gold potatoes and asparagus, it was a still a nice meal, but less fuss.

You can see where I am going with this. The asparagus bunches seem bigger this year. I had two. I pushed as many asparagus as I could onto my reduced-size dinner party, but there were plenty left.

Eric has suggested cream of asparagus soup, “On one of those chilly nights,” but I’d already been looking online for how to freeze them.

My niece came to the rescue. She took one bunch off my hands and cooked them for Easter dinner. Whew. I finished the leftovers here, which were somehow a bit too many spears.

There’s worse things. I’m sure I’ll be up for asparagus again in a few weeks, but those green beans? It’s still going to be a while.

Caroline Lee is a freelance writer who lives in Troy. Reach her at [email protected]

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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