I was listening to Mumford and Sons (maybe just a smidge too loud) the other night when my husband came home. He'd never heard them before and was intrigued. He's working on a new album and was interested in why exactly I liked them so much, a question he asks me a lot but one I'm still so bad at answering. But this time I knew exactly what I love about Sigh No More: two part vocal harmonies, sweeping climaxes punctuated by a plucky, twangy banjo, and a cycle between quiet melodies and a wall of sound. I'm a sucker for a wall of sound. It's why I'll always love Phil Spector songs even though Phil Spector's murderous impulses terrify me, it's why I was totally obsessed with Sufjan Stevens until I just...wasn't anymore, and it's why punk music will always be part of my daily listening routine.
I'm the same way with food. I'll try new things when they're offered to me, of course, but I always tend to stray back to my old standards - simple foods but with a wall of flavor. You know what I mean. Freshly made pesto, sharp cheese, a thick slice of bacon, a big fat olive (preferably stuffed with prosciutto or feta cheese), dill, cinnamon, garlic, a steaming curry with coconut and peppers that'll burn the taste buds off your tongue, cranberries, white truffle oil, and any Texas-style barbecue sauce on pretty much any meat. Marshall teases me because I always use the same spices (I dare you to find a recipe I make on a regular basis that doesn't include at least one clove of garlic) but it's not my fault that they're so packed with flavor they make my mouth water just thinking about them.
So in honor of my currently overwhelming obsession with Mumford & Sons, I present to you a recipes also featuring a wall of flavor. You can assume that anything I post here is gluten free because that's how I roll, whether I like it or not. (I don't like it, in case you were wondering.)
Pan-seared bacon green beans
I KNOW, RIGHT? The name alone has your mouth watering.
- You all know how to prep green beans for cooking, so I won't bore you with all the "snap this" and "wash that" business but, you know, wash and snap however many you want first.
- Go ahead and slice up some bacon, or whatever hippie soy tofu sprouted fake bacon you found on sale for $10 last week at Whole Foods, into reasonably sized pieces to mix with the beans. Don't cook it first or it'll turned into charred blasts of flavor instead of just light, crispy blasts of flavor.
- Put both of those in a bowl and dump whatever sort of crazy spices you want, but I'd suggest sticking with those in the pepper family, like paprika and cayenne. If you're me, you'll also want to toss some minced garlic in the mix but my garlic evangelism doesn't go so far as to force it on you. Toss all this around until everything's nicely coated.
- Cook that delightful concoction in a cast iron skillet on medium high heat until they start to burn. Then toss them around and let the other side burn as well. Seriously, the only way you can fuck this up is if you don't let them burn.
- These are best if served pretty quickly otherwise they'll start losing their crispiness. I love dipping them in pesto or hummus, but you can do what you want man I ain't your mom.
Another way I love to eat these is to mix them in with potato gnocchi covered in pesto. Watch me bring this back around to music: I love the way the crispy green beans harmonize with the squishy gnocchi, MUCH LIKE those dudes in Mumford & Sons whose names I don't know. I use Conte's brand of gluten free potato gnocchi because I'm not an Italian grandmother with nothing else to do but make pasta for my family. Conte's has crazy awesome gluten free stuff like spinach ravioli, stuffed cheese shells, pre-made pizzas, and pierogies, and all of it is just as delicious as its gluten-filled counterpart.
So there. Turn on Sigh No More and belt your sweet little heart out to "Little Lion Man" while intentionally burning your vegetables, and not just to spite your grandmother who boiled them until they had no flavor left.