Friday, June 3, 2011

And Vinegar - Parshat Naso

Last year there was shavuot, graduation and Parshat Naso all in the same week. Well the graduation parties ended last weekend and Shavuot isn't until next week, but we will read the weekly portion of Naso this week, and I'd like to revisit a theme: the Nazir. This is someone who
takes on extra responsibility by making a vow to act more like a priest than a citizen of the world- no wine, no haircuts and no mourning.

What I didn't tell you about last year when it comes to the Nazir is that not only is wine forbidden, so are all manner of grapes - the text tells us "he shall abstain from wine and all other intoxicants, neither shall he drink anything in which grapes have been steeped, nor eat grapes fresh or dried... nothing from the grapevine - not even seeds or skin." Well that is certainly a culinary limitation. But since one can't take on these vows anymore I thought we would use a grape inspired dish - but with a little subtlety.

Last weekend Sam and I were visiting his family in DC and cooked a collaborative Shabbat dinner. Sam was busy roasting fish while his mother put together a salad and I was roasting sweet potatoes as well as some string beans with balsamic vinegar.

I always thought that balsamic was a wine vinegar, but after some online reading, it turns out it uses unfermented grapes. It would still be outlawed for a Nazir. I love balsamic vinegar for it's sweet yet astringent taste (too much on it's own burns my nose though). In particular I find it complements lightly roasted vegetables. But last week it wasn't enough - the large batch of srting beans came out of the oven tasting a bit bitter. To solve this taste conundrum I sprinkled lime on top of the beans and came up with a recipe I wanted to share with you.

Roasted String Beans with Balsamic and Lime

4 cups of green beans, trimmed and washed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 lime
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Toss 4 cups of green beans on a baking sheet with 2 tbsps olive oil,
salt an pepper and roast for 35 minutes.

Remove from oven, and cool 5 minutes. Then queeze the juice of one lime over the beans and drizzle with 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar.

Parmesan would go nicely with this if your going dairy.

Sorry no time for pictures - things have been hectic around here with the launch of the Jewish Teacher Corps and the culmination of the Wanderings and Wonderings Program.

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