Verjuice: In the 14th and 15th centuries French cooks used this juice made from unripe grapes. It has the tartness of lemon and the acidity of vinegar but without the harshness of either. It marries particularly well with nut oils. Use it to de-glaze pans, make vinaigrettes, or poach fruit in a syrup made from equal parts verjuice and sugar. Use white wine vinegar as an alternative in vinaigrettes or white wine for sauces or sweet applications.
Serves: 6 - 8
500g small round green beans, stalk end removed
1⁄2 cup olive oil
2 anchovies, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 fennel bulb, sliced into thin strips
1⁄4 cup verjuice or white wine
1 teaspoon honey
6 vine ripened tomatoes, seeded and cut into medium dice
1⁄4 cup mixed herbs, chopped, eg. basil, tarragon, dill, parsley, oregano
12 large, firm, green olives, flesh slivered from the stone
julienne zest of 1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add the green beans. Cook until al dente, drain then refresh in iced water [this halts the cooking process and preserves the beans’ deep green colour]. Drain again and set aside.
Place the oil in a large sauté pan and heat gently. Add the anchovies and the garlic and allow the anchovies to melt into the oil.
Add the fennel and cook until just tender, then pour on the verjuice and the honey and allow it to bubble up. Take off the heat and cool for a few minutes.
Fold through the tomatoes, herbs, olives, and lemon zest and season to taste. Add the beans and mix to combine. Place on a shallow platter and scatter with extra herbs.