Green Beans and Garden Parties

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July 3, 2013 by caitlinvaclark

It’s almost 4th of July in the US and I have summer on the mind, even if it’s not in the air. We did actually experience some proper summer weather here in London just in time for a garden party that we attended on Sunday.

I spent a large portion of last week trying desperately to figure out what to wear to this party, as it was hosted by the head of Chris’ firm. You don’t want to mess that up right? Plus the dress code on the invitation was “summer smart casual.” What the hell that is? I was guessing we would be in the sundress family, but that idea was thrown off by the pending cool weather. So I attempted to take some pictures of outfit choices to enlist the help of a few fashionable friends. Confession here: I think we (by we I clearly mean social media, hollywood gossip pages, and my own humorous commentary) might have been quick to judge this downward spiral of Amanda Bynes’. “Selfies” are really hard!! That takes talent!

Luckily by Sunday, the weather forecast was actually in the low 80s (high 20s for you celsius people) so I was good to go and didn’t have to end up in some makeshift pleated skirt and cardigan number. I must admit, it was sooo nice to break out a proper sundress, but sadly it looks like it’s back to jeans and cardigans for the rest of the week at least.

Sunday was a blast. We were appropriately dressed. And we were able to enjoy the perfect weather while it lasted. The whole party was quintessentially British, set in a stunningly manicured garden with a greeting of Pimms on silver trays and a roaming three man band. But there was also the quirkiness that I have come to expect of our English brethren, including people dressed as moving hedges walking around. Chris referred to it as the sort of thing nightmares are made of. While I didn’t take any pictures at the event, we did get our pictures taken as part of the hilarious entertainment/takeaway. Could we be any less British??


When the weather is great, I feel like your main dish is easily sorted. Just throw whatever meat you happen to have on the grill, marinated if you have time or with just a quick spice rub. To take your summer meals up a notch, here is a proper summer side dish for whatever grilled main you fancy: Green Beans with Mushrooms and Sherry Vinegar.

I roast the vegetables in stages so that they all get perfectly cooked. Start with the shallots and garlic, which need the longest time to get perfectly caramelized.


Then add the mushrooms but wait to salt the vegetables until you add the green beans,  so that they don’t pull too much moisture out of the mushrooms. The green beans which only need about 10 minutes to be roasted and slightly charred but still crisp, so add them last.

Green Beans & Mushrooms with Sherry Vinegar: A Broad Cooking

To serve, drizzle and toss with some sherry vinegar and any of the olive oil and juices from roasting.

Green Beans & Mushrooms with Sherry Vinegar: A Broad Cooking

Green Beans & Mushrooms with Sherry Vinegar

Serves 4

4 shallots, peeled and quartered

10 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

8 oz. mushrooms, halved

1 lb. green beans, trimmed

3 Tbs. olive oil, divided

2 Tbs. sherry vinegar

Heat oven to 375˚F.

Toss the shallots and garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil and spread onto a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and an additional 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast for 10 more minutes, then add the green beans, remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for an additional 10-12 minutes, until the green beans are just beginning to char.

Toss with sherry vinegar just before serving.


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