Snapping beans on the porch during summer feels like a cultural myth distant from the day-to-day of modern life. But modern life has been turned upside down for many of us this year, and so recently I found myself snapping green beans in silence. Working in the kitchen this unhurried way feels unfamiliar. So often I cook like it’s a chore, moments to be optimized, minimized, and multi-tasked. I listen to podcasts while I chop or scroll news while I stir, my brain ever elsewhere.
We forget that cooking is both clock and calendar. It’s a way to fill time and a way to mark it. When peaches arrive, I know that summer is truly, finally here. And when I have already made my share of peach cobblers and pies and jams and gotten sticky from the juice of a ripe peach eaten out of hand, then I’ll know the arc of time is bending toward change again. We are almost at that moment. Summer heat is here to stay for a while longer, but fall isn’t far. The horizon line shimmers.
Let’s pass the in-between time in the kitchen. The tactile work of food preparation can ground us in the present—which feels like the only space available to us after this strange year. Give your attention to the snap of green beans and the rosiness of peaches in this unexpected summer salad. Sweet caramelized onions echo the sweet peaches, while crisp-tender green beans and fresh herbs balance them out. The side dish comes together quickly, although the prep is a little slow. But who is counting? This moment is all we have.
6 Tbs. olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
4–5 firm-ripe peaches, sliced
2 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed
1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
½ cup fresh mint, chopped or torn
3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1. Heat 3 Tbs. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until just beginning to caramelize, 8–10 minutes. Stir in peaches and oregano; cook until peaches are slightly softened, about 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Meanwhile, whisk remaining 3 Tbs. of oil with vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add green beans and cook until crisp-tender. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water until chilled. Drain well and add to peach mixture in skillet. Pour dressing over; toss to combine. Transfer to a large ser
Photography by Jivan Davé