Georgian holiday feast, part II


One of the biggest reasons to eat Georgian food is khachipuri, known as "the pizza of Eastern Europe". Like pizza, khachipuri is more of a whole category than a specific recipe; I think there are as many recipes are there are Georgian surnames. This year's khachipuri was based on an Ossetian recipe, incorporating beet greens since I had a lovely bunch of them from the beets I used for the pkhali. This was excellent; while somewhat less cheesy than other ones I've made, it was flavorful and did well as leftovers.

Speaking of cheese: the traditional cheeses for khachipuri are Imeretian or Sulguni. You can't get these in the USA, except maybe in New York, so substitute a 50/50 mix of block feta and dry mozzarella, and add a couple tablespoons of Greek yogurt. I've also seen American meunster cheese recommended as a substitution.

As always, I used a number of references for this year's holiday meal. In addition to, I also used The Georgian Feast, The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, and Flatbreads and Flavors.

herbed green beans

If khachipuri and pkhali are two of the food groups of Georgia, surely lobio is the other. The word "lobio" refers to beans, whether dried red beans or green beans. So we had to have lobio, and this turned out to be the runaway success of the evening. Our guests raved about these, and they were probably the easiest thing in the whole meal. The recipe below is loosely based on a recipe from Flatbreads and Flavors.

Georgian Herbed Green Beans

2 lbs fresh green beans
Salt, large pot, large bowl

1/2 cup walnut oil
1 Tbs olive oil, plus more
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp salt, plus more
1/3 cup minced fresh mint
1/3 cup finely chopped dill
1/3 cup minced parsley or cilantro
1-2 cloves garlic, mashed
1 tsp sugar, plus more

Mix all ingredients for the dressing. Taste; it will probably be somewhat sharp. Add small amounts of salt, sugar, and olive oil until the flavor is balanced.

Heat a large pot of salted water, large enough for all the green beans, until simmering. Trim the grean beans and snap into 1-2" pieces. Fill the large bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes. Blanch the beans for 5 minutes. Immediately strain them out and shock them in the bowl of cold water, until completely cool. Drain and dry the beans.

Just before serving, toss the beans with the dressing. Serve at room temperature. Do not allow them to sit for long before serving, as the beans may turn an unattractive putty color.

Note: if you can get them, Romano beans are better than regular green beans for lobio.