I had a hunch that the earth's other edge might be just the thing for August angst.
That Maine might be all it's cracked up to be.
And more. Ridiculously more.
Like I always tell my kids: you never know unless you try.
Days before we left on our epic journey (more, later), I lectured myself on this same principle, as applied to Thursdays. For dinner, I had a full bag of romanos, those muscular green beans with a meaty sweetness their slight cousins can't touch. I'd intended to braise them low and slow à la Zuni, my fallback position and a drop-dead solution. But we walked in the door later than planned, and I had half an hour before the wolves started pacing.
On a lark, before so much as setting down my keys, I fired the oven to a wavy-hot 450°, set a rack low, and queued a baking sheet. I rinsed the romanos, tipped them onto the sheet, heavy-handed the olive oil and kosher salt, and after a twelve-second finger tousle, slid them over the neon coils. I had a hunch that romanos' substantial flesh might yield to high heat like cauliflower: gradually, completely, brilliantly. And another hunch that I'd just consigned summer's brightest and best to the trash. I crossed my fingers. And hung up my keys.
I was not wrong, on both accounts.
They roasted up as I'd hoped, and better. The blazing heat tempered their tough, turning them yielding and spot-on tender. The oil ond salt worked their usual magic, adding layers of richness and caramel and ping. Like summer's roast parsnips. Like french fries. Like candy. Their centers softened, supple and slumped. Some ends caramelized, other lucky ones charred. Like burnt ends on pork, bits worth hunting. Addictive.
Much like Maine.
Roasted Romano Beans
Romano beans are a broad, flat bean widely available at farmer's markets through late summer and early fall. Fantastically sweet and tender when braised or roasted, they are among my favorite beans. Bonus: they don't need topping or tailing, which pretty much vaults them to top pick in my book.
1-1 1/2 pounds romano beans
3-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450°, and set rack in lower third. Pull out a large rimmed baking sheet, and tumble a heap of rinsed romano beans on top. 1 pound is good, 1 1/2 pounds, even better. Drizzle a good slosh of olive oil over all, 3-5 tablespoons. Be generous. Sprinkle plenty of kosher salt over all, 2-3 teaspoons. Toss everything together with clean hands, to coat.
Slide beans onto the lower rack. Roast for 15 minutes, or until bean bottoms are dappled with brown, but not burning. Toss, drawing corner beans into center, and vice-versa, then return to oven for another 5-10 minutes. Beans are done when tender throughout, caramelized in spots, and ravishing. Taste for salt, sprinkle a bit more as needed, and eat with your fingers, hot or at room temperature.