Most of the time, I like my green beans al dente. Raw even, in a salad, or lightly sautéed so that they're just past crunchy, moving toward tender. But there are exceptions. This dish, something Rawia Bishara calls "Fasooliya bi Zeit" in Arabic, is one. It's a side dish, something you want to serve with bread or rice, something you want cooked through, wilted, thoroughly sauced. It takes the best of summer produce—green beans and tomatoes—and cooks them down with garlic and shallots and spices into a sort of July comfort food. It's more of a meal than most things I've done with green beans, and it's delicious.

It's not, as you can see, very pretty, but it makes up for that in droves with its flavors. Oh! And that's the bean teepee I told you about this spring, all fleshed out. We choose Rattlesnake and Blue Coco for our pole bean varieties, and as you can see above and below, they're thriving. Sally loves having a hiding spot in the garden, and I like it because it keeps her somewhat contained and happy.

Happy bean season, friends. 


This recipe comes from Olives, Lemon, & Za'atar by Rawi Bishara. She's originally from Israel and now runs a restaurant in Brooklyn that we learned about through a friend's wedding. She says this dish is a regular on Friday night dinner tables in her home country, and it's best served with bread or rice to mop up the sauce.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 and 1/2 pounds green beans, both ends trimmed, cut into 1 and 1/2-inch pieces
1 and 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
3 large tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
8 ounces diced or crushed canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Warm up the olive oil over high heat in a large pot. Add the shallots and sauté for about a minute, until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic, cook another 30 seconds or so stirring constantly, and stir in the spices. Cook another 30 seconds and add the green beans, salt, and tomatoes. Stir to combine, turn down the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, until the green beans are tender. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and lemon juice and cook uncovered for another 4-5 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

The original recipe calls for serving this hot, but I actually like it better cold the next day. It reminds me of a deli side. That said, it is still delicious straight out of the pot. This serves quite a few, so you should have enough left over to experiment with it both ways.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.