Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Green Beans Sautéed with Garlic and Tomato

Green beans are still coming in, and the usual ways of fixing them are getting a little stale. While beans are still plentiful, here's a refreshing way of fixing them that I particularly like. It's adapted from what I learned from a Turkish chef who is a friend of mine. This colorful dish can serve either as an appetizer (meze) or as a vegetable side dish for a Middle Eastern meal. While the particular recipe is Turkish, similar dishes are part of Greek, Lebanese, and other eastern Mediterranean cuisines.

The beans are traditionally well cooked, more so than in the current trend toward crisp vegetables, in order to soak up the flavors. I recommend thorough cooking for this particular preparation. But they are excellent cooked a little crisper. That's the cook's choice.

The recipe is sufficient for six, and can be served at room temperature or warm.

Green Beans Sautéed with Garlic and Tomato Tim

1 pound fresh green (“snap”) beans
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander or 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Large pinch cayenne or crushed hot red pepper flakes
2 medium-large tomatoes, chopped, or 3/4 cup drained diced canned tomato
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley, flat “Italian” style preferred

Remove the tips from the green beans and cut or break into 1-1/2-inch lengths. Rinse and drain them. Mince the garlic. Heat the oil to medium high in a deep pot. Add the garlic, and briefly stir and, just until fragrant, about 15-20 seconds. Add the beans and stir immediately. Add about 3 tablespoons water, the salt, coriander or nutmeg, pepper, and cayenne or crushed pepper. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a tiny amount water if becoming too dry. Add the tomatoes, stir and simmer another 10 minutes. The beans should be very tender, but still intact. Taste a bean to check for tenderness and saltiness. Simmer a little more or salt lightly, if needed. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and most of the chopped parsley (reserving a little for garnish). Let sit, covered, for at least 15 minutes. Taste to check salt once more before serving, and adjust it if necessary.

For appetizer or meze, serve at room temperature in small dishes, along with other appetizers. As a side dish for a dinner, serve warm in a shallow bowl. For either way of serving, dust with the reserved chopped parsley.


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