19 April 2012

Green Beans with Tomatoes

Technically speaking, this is yet another kind of lobio.  But because it is made with green beans, I feel like it is a nice change of pace.  I do a lot of bean recipes because they are cheap, filling and incredibly nutritious.  I know that they aren't everybody's favorite, but that is part of why I'm posting ways to cook them that are a little different.



A note about olive oil

If you've noticed, I tend to use a lot of olive oil.  I also tend to not measure it (goes back to the whole cooking by sight thing...).  Have you wondered why I use olive oil, as opposed to other fats like butter or, in the case of beans, bacon or ham hocks?

Mainly, I do this for the health benefits.  I do like the richness and taste of dishes cooked with butter and the smokiness that the bacon can give, but the problems associated with animal fats tend to outweigh the benefits.  I find this especially true when it comes to beans, since, as you may have guessed, we tend to eat them a lot.

Olive oil is chock full of monounsaturated fatty acids.  This type of fat is actually good for you.  It's good for your heart and can help to reduce cholesterol levels.  Some research is also beginning to show that it helps with insulin and blood sugar levels.  Yes, it is still fat.  And it is still high calorie.  But your body does need fat in order to absorb certain vitamins and antioxidants (remember lycopene in the tomatoes?)  So the trick is to make sure that the fat you are putting in your body is the best for it.  And butter and bacon, even though they may taste great, are certainly not the best for you.

Moving right along...


You will need:
  • 2 lb (1 kg) fresh or frozen green beans
  • 5 onions, halved and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 lb (700 g) tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 1 Anaheim chili pepper, diced
  • dried summer savory
  • large handful cilantro
  • large handful parsley
  • small handful dill
  • small handful basil
  • red wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste




The first thing you'll want to do is cover the beans with water in a large dutch oven.  They don't need to be thawed, if you are using frozen.  The hot water will take care of that nicely for you.  Simmer them until they are just crisp-tender.  You really don't want them to get too done because you will be simmering them again later with other ingredients.  Green bean mush is not our goal here.
When the beans have cooked, save about a cup of cooking liquid in a measuring cup or bowl.  Drain the rest.



Next add a good drizzle of oil around a skillet.  One of the benefits of cooking by sight is that you're not wasting oil by leaving some on a measuring spoon, and there are less things to wash.  That may or may not have been the deciding factor in my learning how to cook by sight.



Once the oil is shimmery and pretty (and your kitchen starts to smell like olive oil), add the onions.  Let them cook until they are soft and starting to caramelize.  Pour them into the pot with the green beans.


In the same skillet, cook the tomatoes in a little olive oil.  When they start to get juicy, add about a tablespoon of savory.  Let that cook until the tomatoes thicken slightly and are soft.


Meanwhile, add a few drops of red wine vinegar to the cooking liquid from the beans.  I didn't measure it, but it only took a few drops to change the color of the liquid from pale green:

to slightly pinkish.  That's a technical term, by the way.

Then add chopped cilantro, minced garlic, chili pepper and salt to the liquid.



Add the tomatoes and the dressing mixture from the previous step to the pot of beans.  Cook over medium-low heat for about five minutes.






While that is cooking, chop the rest of the herbs (parsley, dill and basil).  Put a little aside for a garnish if you like.

After about five minutes, the beans should look about like this:


Then add most of your herbs (or all if you aren't saving some for a garnish).  Stir them in and cook two more minutes.



Serve with boiled potatoes (dill optional...), feta and maybe a little more olive oil drizzled over the top.  Just for good measure.




Приятного аппетита!