Monday, 13 August 2012

Green bean, roasted potato and fresh corn salad

The more new experiences you have, the longer your life will feel. I read about this idea in a book I am currently reading called Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. In the book a man named Ed Cooke states: "The more we pack our lives with memories, the slower time seems to fly". What an incredibly simple but obviously true and important observation that many of us undoubtedly take for granted. 

When you spend the day repeating habitual tasks, like sitting in front of the computer, the hours and days all sort of blend in together. At the time, the moments tick by, they feel long I know, but when you look back, the entire time appears to have transpired in a sort of blur, like the world seen from a merry-go-round.

A day where nothing happens is a day that is forgotten. A day filled with social encounters, physical exertion, and rich conversation passes by all too quickly but when looked back upon it becomes an entire mental motion picture that is colourful and deep and an expansive repertoire of experiential memories. I am often amazed at the depth of events that can occur within a single day that could have just as easily passed by with me having done nothing at all. When you look back on a life that is filled with technicolor experiences versus a life filled with days that were not worth remembering which life do you think will feel like it has gone on forever rather than gone by in the blink of an eye?

For me this is important. I want to live forever; I know that I cannot. So maybe pursuing a life that feels eternal is the closest I will get. Thus, since I read about this idea I have made a real effort to just do things, even when I would rather do nothing (which is often). I have not done anything so memorable as skydive or climb Mount Everest but I have been spending as much time as possible with people I rarely see, going to places I rarely go and doing things that I just have not done enough of. Being that it is summer this has been much easier I am sure than if it was raining every day as it usually does in the fall, winter and spring. But I still feel like the last few weeks have been filled with subjectively memorable, life expanding experiences.

Yesterday was a prime example of a day filled with activity. I woke up late but as soon as I was revived I hopped on my bike and went to the farmers market (for the first time in weeks) and picked up many things which will hopefully show up in my cooking and my blog over the next week.  I came home, dropped off my goods and packed my bike up for a trek to Third Beach in Stanley Park. After a good sun and swim session I biked with my friend and gardening partner, Vesna, to our garden in the east end of the city.

We completely overhauled our garden, reigning in our wild teenager tomato plants by tying their rebellious branches to bamboo poles, we turned the soil where the potatoes were growing and harvested those that Vesna had not been able to haul home the week before. We untangled our ornamental pea plant from the string-based trellis we had put up earlier in the summer and re-tied it to a tidier, smaller bamboo fence. After weeding and watering we planted some fall/winter crops of yellow beets, spinach, leeks, carrots and radishes.

I headed home an hour before sunset, relaxed for a few hours (ones that I pointedly do not really remember) and then Mike and I ended the evening on the roof-top, trying to catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower. Although I was sad for the day to end (the following day was a Monday), I was happy that the day was one that was more likely to be remembered than forgotten and hopefully, at the end of it, my life will feel like it has been just that much longer.

I made this salad with the heirloom beans and BC grown corn I had picked up from the farmers market and with the potatoes dug up from my garden on Sunday. Because the beans are so gorgeous I did not want to muddle their beauty with a creamy sauce. Thus I left the dressing simple: lemon, vinegar, dijon and maple syrup. Little did I realize that the purple beans would turn green and the marbled beans would turn pale yellow upon boiling. 

I should add that the flavour of these beans was just incredible. Not because of my recipe, but I am sure because they were fresh, organic heirloom beans. I usually don't care that much for beans but these were as delicious as any vegetable I have had all summer. I wish I could remember the name of the vendor so I could encourage you to stop by their tent at the Kitsilano market.

Green bean, roasted potato and fresh corn salad
Makes 4 small servings
If you want to make this salad more quickly, you can just boil the potatoes until tender but I am a sucker for roasted potatoes and I love the flavour that roasting them with garlic adds.

4 cups potatoes, chopped
2 cups green beans (or assorted heirloom beans)
1 ear's worth of fresh corn kernels
3 cloves garlic
Extra virgin olive oil

(and an ice-water bath)

Dressing ingredients
2 meyer lemons, juice
1 tsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp maple syrup
Sea salt
1 tbsp dijon mustard

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Add potatoes to a pot and cover with an inch above of luke warm water.
3. Bring water to a boil and boil potatoes for 5 minutes, drain.
4. Toss the well-drained potatoes with 3 crushed garlic cloves, 2 tbsp olive oil and season well with sea salt.
5. Roast potatoes in a wide, shallow baking dish for 30 minutes, stirring half way through cooking time.
6. Meanwhile, bring another pot of water to boil.
7. Add beans and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and submerge beans in the ice-water bath.
8. Trim beans, chop into 2-inch pieces and add to a bowl with corn kernels.
9. Make the dressing by whisking together the dressing ingredients. Sweeten to taste with the maple syrup. Add just enough to take the sour taste out of the dressing.
10. When the potatoes are done, just before they start to brown, remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes.
11. Toss potatoes in with the corn and beans. Add about 5 - 6 tbsp of the dressing to the salad and mix by tossing gently between two bowls (to keep the potatoes from getting mushy, or you can just let the potatoes cool fully before tossing with dressing).
12. You can eat the salad right away, while the potatoes are still warm, if desired. Alternatively, cover salad, store in the fridge about one-hour, then serve. Keep the extra dressing to season the salad further if needed.


  1. our potatoes! Those 2 zucchinis are ready for you to harvest tomorrow. And Dave and I ate 2 yellow tomatoes today and they were amazing.

  2. Yay garden vegetable salad! I grew potatoes and purple beans too this year, but only got the tiniest of crops--barely enough for one serving of this salad. I guess that's what the farmer's market is for. :P I make green bean and potato vinaigrette a lot--actually just last night for dinner!--but I haven't tried including corn. It sounds perfect!