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Friday, September 27, 2013

Italian Braised Green Beans

Before the growing season is over I must share one more method for using those older, tougher green beans that have hidden from the harvester until they are too big to miss. Those who don't garden may not run into these beans, although sometimes supermarket produce departments offer beans that look considerably past their prime. This recipe may be useful to us all. Let me point out that the beans will resemble canned beans in color but will be superior in flavor and texture. Don't be afraid to try something that isn't "crisp-tender."

My well-used copy of the book, Vegetables Everyday by Jack Bishop, is the source for this recipe, correctly titled "Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes, Olives, Capers, and Basil." I must admit I feel annoyed with recipe titles that list every ingredient. So I changed the title; rather too broadly, I fear. Bishop himself muses that it should be called "Green Beans Puttanesca."


Italian Braised Green Beans

Adapted from Jack Bishop's Vegetables Everyday
Serves 4 as a side dish

1 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 pound green beans, ends removed
4 tomatoes, canned or fresh, chopped, and juice from the can to equal 1 c or 1/2 c water
12 large Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 teas drained capers
1 T minced fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a sauce pan or a saute pan. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the beans and stir them well with the oil and garlic. Add the tomatoes, olives, and capers and bring the liquid to a boil. Add some salt (approximately 1/2 teas) and pepper; if you use fresh tomatoes you'll have to add more salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the beans are quite tender but not mushy. Stir a few times while the beans simmer.

For a side dish, remove the cover from the pan and cook to evaporate the remaining tomato liquid. Stir in the basil and check seasonings; serve immediately.


The other night, I used this as a topping for polenta and was pleased with the results. However, I advise doubling the tomatoes for use as a sauce and skip the evaporating step.  

If you want to make this more puttanesca-like, add a pinch of red pepper flakes for more heat.

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