by Gabby Douthitt
There aren’t many nights that pass without me falling asleep reading Molly Baz’s Cook This Book. Just last night, I made what she lovingly calls beanz—a garlicky, lemony cold green bean recipe adorned with pistachios and parmesan—for the sixth time. I make them and eat them as a side, an afternoon snack, a bite with coffee, and a full meal. They’re that good. And her latest cookbook is beautiful and compelling and has taught me more than I ever thought I could know about cooking and creating, and being myself. I love Molly Baz.
And I think everyone should love Molly Baz too. Even my mom, who considers herself the best and most creative cook (which she probably is—the woman never uses a recipe), has recently had a change of heart and LOVES Cook This Book. Previously, she would say that Molly Baz was a great cook with pretty hands that just wasn’t very creative. To be fair, some of her recipes aresimply great takes on classic recipes and mealtime staples. Cook This Book has changed that for my mom—Molly presents creative recipes beautifully and includes cooking and life lessons along the way.
I feel like I’m trying to convince you to love someone there’s no reason not to love. Maybe some pictures would help you become inspired to at least check out her Instagram @mollybaz. She’s fashionable, creative, has a beautiful mustard yellow and royal blue palette that runs through her social media feeds and cookbooks. She abbreviates everything and uses a creative and striking vernacular. She’s not afraid to be herself or adopt a persona that’s just like her food–a fresh take on something you’ve seen before. She fights for social justice, has interests BESIDES cooking, and is married to a mysterious creative @willett. I still can’t figure out what exactly he does. I’m rambling. Maybe I just want to be Molly Baz when I grow up.
Back to beanz. Molly has plenty of delicious recipes that I have made over and over (see her Cae Sal and
Crispy McCrisperson chicken thighs), but beanz just rock. As I write this, I’m thinking of the pyrex dish in my fridge of beanz that represents everything comforting, innovative, and timeless that I will return home to later. I’m not being dramatic when I say beanz remind me of the life and career I seek to have. Salty, nutty, green, crisp, bright, tangy, sharp. All things beanz are, and all things I want to be.
My challenge for you: make beanz, and see if you agree. Let me know what you think. At the very least, try to see how many ways you can enjoy these little green treats and how the recipe inspires you to change how you approach cooking–as innovation and art rather than necessity.
Beanz recipe (Reprinted from Cook This Book Copyright 2021 by Molly Baz)
- Kosher salt
- ¾ cup roasted, salted pistachios
- 1 ½ pounds green beans, wax beans, or Romano beans
- 1 small garlic clove
- 2 lemons
- 1/3 cup evoo
- 1 ½ ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/3 cup)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bring 4 quarts of water and 1½ cups salt (see NOTE) to a boil in a large pot. Finely chop the pistachios until all the pieces are about the size of a lentil. Trim the ends of the green beans.
- COOK THE BEANS: Once the water boils, stir in the beans and cook until just tender but not limp, 5 to 6 minutes. (Taste one and see if they’re done—they shouldn’t be fibrous or tough to chew, but you also don’t want them to be totally lifeless and mushy. Find that happy, snappy medium.) While the beans cook, fill a large bowl with ice and water. Using a spider strainer or tongs, transfer the cooked beans to the ice bath to stop the cooking. Keep them in the ice bath until completely cool.
- MAKE THE DRESSING: Finely grate 1 garlic clove and the zest of 1 lemon into a medium bowl. Cut the zested lemon and a second lemon in half and add the juice from both lemons to the bowl, whisking to combine. Slowly stream in the olive oil, whisking as you go. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season the dressing with salt and lots of black pepper. Stir in the chopped pistachios.
- DRAIN AND ASSEMBLE: Drain the beans, then transfer them to a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. (You want them as dry as possible so as not to introduce any water into the dressing we just made, which will dilute the flavor.) Add the green beans to the bowl of dressing, tossing well to coat. Taste and add more salt and black pepper if you think it needs it. Serve them up! These are best served very cold, so keep them covered and refrigerated until serving if you’re making them in advance.
NOTE: YES! THAT IS SO MUCH SALT! But the beans spend only a couple of minutes in the boiling water, and it takes a LOT of salt to penetrate something as fibrous as a green bean. I have tested this outrageous amount of salt, and I promise you that your beans will be perfectly seasoned, NOT salty.
I hope you make your very own beanz and craft your own story of why they mean something to you. Everybody needs a recipe that feels like home, and Molly Baz might just have something to offer you.