Green party

Henri cooks for Independence Day (Sartre of…)

Photo By spedona (wikimedia commons)

Henri is thrilled that yet another Independence Day is upon us and in fact gets shamelessly patriotic at this time every year. Just imagine those brave rogues! Defying tyranny and the crown, risking their lives for liberty, equality and brotherhood, and founding one of the greatest countries in the history of humankind.

Oh, to have witnessed such history that July day more than 200 years ago. The birth of the Revolution and the Constitution. A thousand angry men—in those darling little knickers, knee stockings and buckled pumps—storming the Bastille. Be still, my heart!

Mon père, naturellement, always celebrated Bastille Day, and in fact often began his celebration 10 days earlier, on your Fourth of July. A professor of film at a small Midwestern college, Mssr. Bourride usually had the summers off, so he spent that week and a half harvesting from his small garden and enjoying the many fruits of the season. He loved to remind anyone who would listen that one of the many things his countrymen were protesting was the rising cost of wine. Many an evening, after a long day in the garden and then the kitchen, he fell asleep in the swing on our large porch, a broad smile on his face and mumbling his beloved “La Marseillaise” as I gently removed the wine glass from his hand.

One of his favorite things to serve in those Midwestern summers was haricots verts, green beans. He grew them on tall poles in the back yard, harvested them in large wicker baskets and prepared them in more ways than we could imagine. Although there were a few that he returned to year after year, dishes that I still make. Here are two of his favorites. They’d be perfect as side dishes—with grilled burgers, ribs, steaks or chicken—for Independence Day barbecues and picnics, either on the fourth of 14th.

Note: While you can substitute canned green beans for fresh in both of these recipes (which means you can make them year round), there’s nothing quite like fresh green beans right off the vine. We’ve been buying them at the farmers markets four and five pounds at a time. They’re also excellent to snack on raw, especially dipped into a light dressing or hummus.

Marinated bean salad

I like to make more of this delicious salad than I plan to use, as it just keeps getting better in the refrigerator, the marinade soaking into the beans and other vegetables. The recipe below should serve four, with leftovers.


1 1/2 cups cooked fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups (or one can) red kidney beans

1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans

1 medium red onion, sliced

1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or mint

salt and fresh-ground pepper

Combine vegetables in large mixing bowl, and mix remaining ingredients for dressing. Add dressing and toss thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate three to four hours or overnight. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fresh green beans with Fontina cheese and garlic-mustard dressing

This was always Colette’s favorite. Father put her in charge of slicing the cheese. The mustard gives it a refreshing bite.


1 lb. fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 lb. Fontina cheese, cut into 2-inch strips, pencil thick

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and fresh-ground pepper

Boil green beans until tender but still crisp (2-3 minutes)—overcooking makes for a mushy salad. Rinse in colander, drain and let dry on paper towel. Mix beans with cheese in a large bowl. Combine garlic and mustard in a small bowl, slowly whisking in the lemon juice and then the oil. Add salt and pepper. Sample with small spoon and adjust to taste. Pour over beans and cheese and toss. Excellent served at room temperature or chilled two to three hours or overnight.