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8 cups water
3 Tbs., plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
2 broccoli crowns, cut into 2-inch florets
4 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup freshly grated aged cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
Cold Marinated Green Beans
Provenance: My mom’s! It’s so perfectly sharp and piquant and was probably an easy way to get the kids to eat green beans.
8 cups water
3 Tbs. kosher salt
2 lbs. green beans, tips and tails trimmed
1 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbs. Dijon mustard
3 Tbs. sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and grated on a Microplane
2 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 small yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch thick rings
Put the water in a large stockpot over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Add the salt and stir to dissolve. Add the green beans and cook until bright green but still crisp, about two minutes. Drain. Put the beans in a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking further. Drain on paper towels as soon as cold, no longer than five minutes.
Combine the vinegar, mustard, sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk in the olive oil. Add the garlic and oregano. Toss the green beans and onion rings with the dressing. Serve chilled.
Tip: You can make this several days ahead of time, and let the beans soak up all that goodness. They will lose a bit of their green color because of the vinegar and the mustard, but they taste so good!
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with a kitchen towel.
Put the water in a large stock pot over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Add three tablespoons of the salt and stir to dissolve. Add the broccoli florets and cook until just tender, about three minutes. Drain and spread out on the prepared baking sheet.
Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and whisk gently for three to four minutes, until the flour just begins to color. Add onions and cook for three to four minutes longer, until the onions have softened.
Stir in the milk, the remaining teaspoon of salt, the mustard, cayenne, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and the mixture will thicken. Adjust the seasoning to your liking and remove from heat.
Stir in the cheddar in three additions to ensure the cheese sauce doesn’t get grainy. Whisk in the mascarpone.
Place the broccoli florets in a nine- by nine-inch baking dish. Cover them with the cheese mixture. Top with the grated Parmesan and bread crumbs and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Let cool for five to 10 minutes before serving.