This is a summertime recipe. At least in Los Angeles. That’s because I never see yellow wax beans at the Hollywood Farmers Market until the dog days descend. I also consider this recipe a warm weather friend because it features summertime basil. And I do mean “features”. Most of the year I mince basil for seasoning or maybe as a garnish. However, when summer rolls around I put down my knife and throw fistfuls of basil leaves into all sorts of recipes – whole! These Charred Yellow Wax Beans are not shy when it comes to basil.
Nor should they be. Basil is the supreme herb of summer. In fact, the word basil comes from the Greek word for king. I’ve got more proof of the power of summertime basil. There’s an old Italian saying, “make pesto while the sun shines” which is a common-sense road map for dealing with summer’s great affluence of basil. But it’s also a metaphor for these glory days of summer. Because when summer rolls around it is easy to find yourself knee-deep in the stuff. Did you really mean to plant, buy, beg, borrow or steal quite so much?
No worries. Summer is when basil shines. This is its moment in the sun. So grab a fistful (or three) and get ready for Charred Yellow Wax Beans.
The varietal I chose is an Italian heirloom (Yellow Italian Wax Romanos). They’re flatter than the more common yellow wax beans that look exactly like green beans but are, well, yellow. The window of availability for these Italian wax beans is very brief in Los Angeles so I like to buy them when I see them. The flat shape also makes them sit against the hot pan and char up nicely.
Which is a good thing, because when it comes to cooking wax beans – simply is best. Just toss them into a blazing hot pan with garlic, lemon, red pepper flakes and a couple of fistfuls of whole basil leaves. GREG