Greek Style Green Beans – Fasolakia Ladera
August 15, 2014
Aunt Suzy says . . .
I made this dish a year ago after seeing Romano green beans at the farmers market and fully intended to post this recipe then. But time got away from me it seems. Just last weekend, we were in Vermont to visit Randy’s brother and his professional gardener partner, Bill, for their wedding. It was non-stop eating and cooking out of the garden. Bill had an abundance of runner beans he wanted to find a use for and, shazam, it just so happens that I had a recipe. Plus, he had almost all of the ingredients right outside.
This is a delicious vegetarian “stew” that can be served as a side dish or as a main, as we did on the last night of our visit. It was a treat to have this lighter supper after feasting for three days although, speaking for myself, I sorta stuffed myself on this meal as well. 🙂 I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo of this year’s version. In looking around at the various recipes, I learned that “ladera” means braised in olive oil, hence a larger quantity of oil than you might expect in a recipe like this. With all those recipes in mind and some advice from a Greek friend, I decided to make this dish as follows. It is HIGHLY adaptable, however, so have at it! Once finished, serve with slices of feta cheese and a nice crusty bread. A dry rose on the darker, richer side goes really well.
Margaux says . . .
I’ve been wanting to make this since my friend Beth from Tasty Yummies told me about it a few years ago. She even wrote a blog post about it after we talked about it, and I just completely forgot to make it! I’m kicking myself now for forgetting, and I’m very happy that Aunt Suzy brought it up again, because I TOTALLY love it. This is like comfort food, for summer. I will be making this often, I think. Beth’s recipe has beef or lamb in it, and I think that would be a nice way to try it when the weather gets cooler. Speaking of the weather, it worked out perfectly that I planned to make this when I did, because it got unseasonably cool here in Chicago, perfect weather for eating stew. I actually had to wear a lightweight sweater today! In August! So weird.
1 to 1 1/2 pounds runner beans (also called pole or Romano), ends snapped off and snapped in half if especially long
2-3 carrots, cut in half length-wise then sliced in 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 cup olive oil
1-2 onions, sliced then each slice cut in quarters
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups of chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup of chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh oregano
3-4 large round ripe red tomatoes, cored and chopped (or 1 large can diced tomatoes)
4-5 whole allspice berries, optional
1 cup of water
3 large potatoes, cut in 2-inch chunks (if using russets, peel, if using white or gold, no need to peel)
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Warm the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. When shimmering turn heat up to medium high and add the onions. Sauté for 5 or so minutes, till translucent, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, stir and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. Add most of the parsley and mint and all of the oregano. Stir to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the beans, the carrots, the tomatoes and allspice berries, if using, and stir to thoroughly combine. Add the water and press all ingredients down into the juices so they are just covered. Cover the pot, bring to a bubble, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add the potatoes and press all ingredients down into the juices again. Bring back to a bubble, reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through. While the potatoes are cooking combine a few tablespoons of parsley, 2 tablespoons of mint and the minced garlic. When the dish is finished, stir this herb/garlic mixture into the pot. Turn into a serving bowl or just serve right out of the pot!
Aunt Suzy: The quantities of ingredients are what I would call guidelines. I’ve seen many recipes that use dill in addition to other herbs and many that use solely parsley. The oregano is my addition. I saw a couple of recipes that said “DO NOT forget to add 1 teaspoon cinnamon at the end”. I asked a Greek friend for advice, and he suggested the carrots and said he adds zucchini when he adds the potatoes (but had not heard of the cinnamon :-)). If you cannot find the flat, longer type of beans called for here, you can use “regular” green beans. I see runner beans occasionally here in the farmers markets, but have not seen in supermarkets in Minnesota. There are versions of this dish that include meat – beef, veal or lamb – but I really like this as a vegetarian meal.
Margaux: I added about a teaspoon of salt when I added the potatoes, because I really don’t like potatoes cooked without salt. Then I added pepper at the end with the herb/garlic mixture. Also, I used regular beans and it turned out great!