Happy Birthday Eshaan!

 
 Today my nephew turned ten. Happy Birthday Eshaan! Kido, I love you. I think I have about two more years to squeeze you before you are taller and stronger than me. But of course no matter how big you get, I will always remember the first time I held you in my arms. You will always be the best birthday present I ever received.

So to celebrate I decided to cook your favorite dessert vegetable, green beans (auntie Chika unfortunately had too much fun over the holidays and therefore is on a diet).

Roasted Sesame Green Beans: (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

  • Roast 1 lb fresh green beans at 425 F with olive oil and salt.
  • In a small bowl mix 1 tsp sesame oil, 2 tsp honey, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, 3 garlic cloves minced, 1 tsp ginger minced, 1 tsbp olive oil, pinch of salt, 4 tsp sesame seeds.
  • Once the green beans are roasted, add the above mixture and toss while still hot.
  • Put green beans back in the oven for up to 5 minutes.

Green Beans and Barley Casserole:

  •  Add a cup of barley to a cup of water with a tablespoon of yogurt. Soak for at least 8 hours (for up to 24 hours). This step reduces cooking time and more importantly neutralizes phytates for easy digestion.
  • Steam 1.5 cups of fresh or frozen green beans cut in one inch pieces with 1/2 cup of chopped red peppers and yellow peppers (Trader Joe’s Pepper Medley is ideal). This step can be done in the microwave or stove top.
  • Remove the soaking liquid and add barley to 2 cups of vegetable stock or chicken stock. Cook until done.
  • In a baking dish, mix cooked barley, steamed vegetables, and 1 cup of cream of mushroom soup (Trader Joe’s preferred over Campbell’s). Add more soup if you like a creamy casserole.
  • Top with panko and  bake for 10 minutes at 350 F.

So Eshaan, here’s to you and to green beans. I hope you have the best birthday ever. I will be ready to eat cake when I see you again. I love you.

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer based in Raleigh, NC. She writes about everything from travel, food, books, and family. Her current project includes a series of children's books to teach Hindi. She is a native Tar Heel who has also lived in Washington DC and Chicago.

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