Monica Pope (an F&W Best New Chef 1996) loves the organic pecans from Rio Grande Organics in Quemado Valley, Texas (riograndeorganics.com). She uses the nuts to garnish a salad of quickly grilled zucchini ribbons and creamy-fleshed cranberry beans. Pecan oil enhances the pecans' sweet flavor but the dish is equally delicious without it.
1 cup shelled cranberry beans (from 1 pound unshelled)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon pecan oil (see Note)
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, plus more for brushing
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon finely chopped tarragon
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds small zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/8 inch thick on a mandoline
8 mint leaves, torn
2/3 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (2 ounces)
1/4 cup pecan halves
In a medium saucepan of boiling water, cook the cranberry beans until tender, about 20 minutes; drain.
In a large bowl, whisk the mustard with the vinegar. Gradually whisk in the pecan oil and the 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil. Whisk in the shallot, tarragon and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Add the warm beans to the dressing and toss.
Preheat a grill pan. Lightly brush the zucchini with oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, turning once, until the zucchini is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer the zucchini to the beans, add the mint and toss. Mound the zucchini on plates, top with the cheese and pecans and serve.