BRING THE THREE COLORS OF MARDI GRAS TO YOUR TABLE
Mardi Gras Bean Blend
by Engrid Winslow
Have you ever wondered about the history of the official Mardi Gras colors? Well, we have answers for you. According to mardigrasneworleans.com, the Krewe of Rex selected the official Mardi Gras colors in 1872. In 1892 the Krewe of Rex Parade theme “Symbolism of Colors” gave meaning to the colors. Purple Represents Justice. Green Represents Faith. And Gold Represents Power. According to the website, Mardi Gras colors influenced the choice of school colors for arch-rivals Louisiana State University (located in Baton Rouge) and Tulane University New Orleans is the home for this school). They say when LSU was deciding on its colors, the shops in New Orleans had stocked up on purple, green, and gold material for the Mardi Gras season. LSU decided upon purple and gold, and bought much of it. Tulane bought much of the only remaining color — green!
You can grow our Mardi Gras Bean Blend easily in your garden. They grow best when planted in the early spring (just like peas, many gardeners chose St. Patrick’s Day as the date of planting). For better germination, purchase new bean and pea inoculant every year from your local garden center and sprinkle it in with your bean seeds. They are vigorous climbers so plan on providing some support as they grow. They are also referred to as snap beans and should be harvested when young before the beans inside develop. No matter what alchemy you try, the purple beans will turn green when cooked. They usually only need the stems snipped off before cooking. Beans are best eaten as soon as they are harvested but will keep in brown paper bags in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator for up as long as two weeks.
GREEN BEANS WITH GARLIC Serves 4-6
Place one lb. of Mardi Gras beans in steamer basket over one inch of boiling water, cover, and steam until crisp-tender (5-7 minutes).
In a small saucepan heat 1 cup of water, 2 cloves of unpeeled garlic to a boil. After simmering the garlic for 5 minutes, remove from the water, peel and mince.
Shock beans in cold water and then drain and set aside. Don’t chill them, but cover to keep them warm.
In a large bowl combine the garlic with one TBL. Red wine vinegar, one TBL olive or (better yet) walnut oil, salt and pepper to taste and toss in the green beans. You can serve at room temperature or warm them briefly in a microwave.
You can also use Mardi Gras Blend beans in this classic pot-luck and picnic salad:
MARDI GRAS BEAN SALAD Serves 8-10
Over low heat in a medium saucepan combine ¾ cup sugar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2/3 cup red wine or apple cider vinegar (white balsamic is also delicious in this), ½ tsp fresh ground pepper and 1 tsp. salt to a very low simmer.
Prepare 2-3 lbs of green beans as directed in the recipe, above. Also, rinse and drain one can of red beans and one can of garbanzo beans. Mix the beans together and pour heated dressing over them. Let marinate for at least 24 hours before serving. This bean salad keeps in the refrigerator for several days.
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