Chauchas A La Plancha with Cucumber Vinaigrette
By Francis Mallmann
Although we often think of beans as dried and hard pantry items requiring long simmering, these summer beans are quite the opposite and taste as fresh as anything in the garden. Our Argentine nickname “chaucha” encompasses fresh green, wax, and romano beans, which are often seen in adjacent heaps at farmers’ markets. A quick blanching—which can be done earlier in the day—precooks them and sets the color while retaining garden-fresh taste. A visit to the plancha imparts some char and caramelization. As with many fruits and vegetables harvested at their peak, fresh beans require few additional ingredients to produce a flavorful and nuanced dish. Cucumber and a vinaigrette add a refreshing finish.
- 1 pound (454 g) mixed young, tender beans such as green, wax, and romano, trimmed
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for
- 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare a fire for medium-high heat and warm the plancha. (Or pull out a large cast-iron griddle if cooking indoors.)
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add the beans. Return to a boil and cook for about 30 seconds (the beans should turn a bright green). Drain in a colander and run under cold water to cool.
Whisk together the oil and vinegar in a bowl. Stir in the cucumber, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
Brush the hot plancha with oil (if cooking indoors, heat the griddle over medium-high heat, then brush with oil). Spread the beans over the hot surface and cook without disturbing them until they are lightly charred in patches, 2 to 3 minutes. Using two wide spatulas (one in each hand), toss the beans, then brown the other side. They should be tender but still have a good bite. Add half the cucumber vinaigrette to the beans and toss together like a salad. Transfer to a wide, shallow serving dish and toss with the remaining vinaigrette. Season to taste and serve.
Excerpted from Green Fire by Francis Mallmann (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2022.
Francis Mallmann is one of the most acclaimed chefs in South America. Born in the Bariloche region of Patagonia, Francis Mallmann grew up in a home where all aspects of cooking were sustained by ever-burning fires. This fueled his fascination for all things culinary, and ultimately his decision to train in the art of French cooking. Francis became a successful chef, but after a while grew restless and bored by the fine dining scene. He decided to return to his roots—cooking with fire!—and applied French techniques to intensify, enhance and develop the flavors and textures of his dishes. He leads with simplicity, generally using only a few ingredients and a series of short steps for cooking.