Helene Henderson became a chef almost by accident. She was still a teenager when she left her home in northern Sweden for New York City, where she cobbled together a living through modeling and retail jobs. After following friends to Los Angeles, Henderson’s career with food began to unfold organically: she hosted a wildly successful dinner party with a friend; then friends of friends started asking her to cook for them. When she opened her charming, ocean-facing restaurant Malibu Farm in 2013, she still harvested all the produce and eggs from her own backyard farm. Even as her restaurant expanded, she maintained the fresh-from-the-garden feel. Here, she shares a simple, holiday-ready dish from her new cookbook, Malibu Farm: from Sunset-to-Sunrise: a festive green-and-red bean salad dressed with intense citrus. Watch her prepare the dish on social, along with a medley of grains, leeks, cranberries and almonds served inside miniature pumpkins.
RED AND GREEN HOLIDAY BEANS
Salt to taste
2 cups fresh green beans
¼ cup olive oil
⅓ cup black lentils, cooked according to the package instructions, drained
2 tablespoons lemon dressing (recipe follows)
1 red bell pepper, roasted and marinated (recipe follows)
1 basket cherry tomatoes, halved (2 cups)
¼ cup chopped fresh dill or other fresh herb of choice, for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the green beans, and blanch them for about 2 minutes. Remove them from the water and let them cool on a sheet pan. (Unless you are cooking large quantities of green beans, there is no need to drop them into ice water. The beans actually taste better when they are allowed to air-dry, rather than absorb more water by cooling in ice.) In a large bowl, lightly toss the beans with the olive oil and salt.
Season the cooked lentils with the lemon dressing and salt to taste, and add the chile pepper if using. Combine the lentils, roasted and marinated red bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes with the green beans. Garnish with the dill or other herbs of choice.
Serve at room temperature.
NOTE Both the lentils (cooked and tossed in lemon dressing and salt) and the roasted and marinated red bell pepper can be made several days in advance.
MAKES ABOUT ¾ CUP
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
Salt to taste
Chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, or rosemary (optional)
The key here is fresh-squeezed juice, not bottled. How much oil will you use? This all depends on how much juice you have squeezed, but you want to have more juice than olive oil, which is why we call it “seriously” citrus dressing.
Just whisk the citrus juice with the olive oil, stir in the garlic, and season with salt. Add chopped herbs if using. Voilà.
ROASTED AND MARINATED RED BELL PEPPERS
MAKES 2 PEPPERS
2 red bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
There are several ways to roast your red bell peppers. If you have a gas stove, turn a burner on high, lay the peppers directly over the flame, and roast, turning them occasionally, until the skin is completely charred. If you do not have a gas stove, then you can put the peppers under the oven broiler or on a barbecue grill; turn them a few times until they are charred black on all sides.
Once the skin is charred, place the red peppers in a bowl and cover it with a plate or a pot lid (or, less ideally, plastic wrap). We just need the peppers to steam for a few minutes. Once they have steamed, peel off the charred skin and slice the peppers into strips. Place them in a bowl or other container.
In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat, and cook the thin garlic slices until they just turn brown. Pour the garlic over the red bell pepper strips and season them lightly with salt. Add the balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Use the marinated peppers right away or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Reprinted from MALIBU FARM SUNRISE TO SUNSET by Helene Henderson. Copyright © 2021 by Helene Henderson. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2021 by Erin Kunkel.