Greek-style Green Beans - Fassolakia Ladera

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.

Greek-Style Green Beans - Fasolakia Ladera

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.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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!

COOKS’ NOTES:

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!

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3-Bean Salad - a modern take Aunt Suzy says . . .

We love green bean salads in the summer here at S&SK, so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. Plus, it reminded me of the long forgotten 3-bean salad of my growing up. So long forgotten that I kept wracking my brain as to what the 3rd bean was. I knew it included canned green beans and canned kidney beans, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember the 3rd bean.  So of course I googled it and saw that it was wax beans! So if you want this recipe to look like the classic but taste 21st century, you could make it with green and wax beans (at farmer’s markets up here right now) and kidney beans. 🙂  We served this with potato salad and grilled meats. Yum!

 Bean Salad - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says . . .

We loved this recipe!  I’m always looking for new ways to prepare green beans because it is a family favorite.  The flavor in this salad is amazing, with the capers, herbs, shallot and lemon.  I used canned cannellini beans.  I served it with California burgers and corn on the cob…perfect summer weeknight meal.

BEAN SALAD adapted from Bon Appetit

INGREDIENTS

2 cups cooked beans, fresh or dried (such as cannellini, borlotti or cranberry) or 1 14-oz. can cannellini or kidney beans, rinsed
1 pound green beans (or half green and half wax beans), ends trimmed, beans snapped in two
3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 or 1 whole lemon, depending on how large
1 small shallot, minced
teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cook the dried or fresh shell beans according to directions. Drain and set aside to cool. Alternatively, open the can, rinse and drain. Cook the green beans (and wax beans if using). Place in steamer, bring water to a boil and steam for 5-6 minutes. Alternatively, cover in water, bring to a boil and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Either way, drain, place back in the pan, cover with cold water and ice to cool down and stop the cooking. Once cool, drain and dry with paper towels.

Place both types of beans in a large bowl. Add the parsley, chives, capers and lemon zest. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, the shallot, the red pepper and salt/black pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and mix thoroughly, best done with your hands.

Snowy Day

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Today demanded soup, but I’m in the mood for spring now that it’s March.  I would not say spring is around the corner here in Minnesota as you can see by this predawn photo, but enough winter already!  So here’s a soup that’s, well . . .a soup, but with many ingredients that taste of spring.  Perfect for a day like today!  Both Randy and I thought we almost couldn’t get enough.  He wanted me to make sure to say that, in his opinion, this must be made with homemade stock, feeling that boxed or canned would diminish the light spring-like quality we loved so much.  He also had an initial bad reaction to the idea of lettuce in a soup, saying that it’s like putting walnuts on a salad.  After a few spoonfuls of the soup, he said that he must like walnuts on salad – hehe.  So don’t be put off by the cooked romaine lettuce – it adds a light crunch and lovely vegetal flavor.  Enjoy with a lemony Pinot Grigio and a baguette!

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This recipe was inspired by one that I saw in a Food 52 email yesterday, but is highly adapted in both method and ingredients.  Serves 8 (or 6 hearty eaters)

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 scallions, white and green separated and sliced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small zucchini, small dice

1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and ground black pepper

9 cups chicken stock

1 small can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

zest of 1 lemon, Meyer if available

1 1/2-2 cups cooked green beans, cut in 2-inch pieces

2 cups cooked shredded chicken

1/4 cup each fresh mint and fresh parsley, chopped (or more to taste)

2 cups dried pasta, small shapes (I used gemelli)

2 cups shredded romaine lettuce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.  When shimmering, add the white part of the scallions and the celery.  Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until softened.  Add the garlic  zucchini, salt and pepper and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring.  Add the chicken stock and chickpeas and simmer for about 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

Add the chicken, green beans, herbs and lemon zest to the soup pot and simmer till heated through, about 5 minutes.  Be careful not to over-stir.

Right before serving, stir in the lettuce and lemon juice.  Cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.

To serve, place a handful of cooked pasta into the bottom of a soup bowl.  Ladle the soup into the bowl over the pasta.  Garnish with a few slices of the green part of the scallions (and a few red pepper flakes if desired).

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This simple potato salad was inspired by a recipe both Margaux and I made last year – and loved –  that had many more ingredients, including tuna.  My inspiration for this simpler version is that the green beans have been really good lately, along with the fact that I “over-bought” basil at yesterday’s farmer’s market. (I have a feeling you will be seeing a number of posts this week using basil :-))  It occurred to me that I could pare back the ingredients from the more complex salad to just potatoes, green beans and basil and use the dressing from that salad.  It turned out great!  We served it with a beautiful piece of salmon from Wild Run Salmon, who also sell at the farmer’s markets in the area, and a refreshing French rose wine.

The Dressing

3 tablespoons EV olive oil

juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon (depending on size and your taste)

juice from 1 large garlic clove (use a garlic press)

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped, optional

Combine and whisk all ingredients till thorougly blended and a little emulsified.  Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

The Salad

2-3 pounds small potatoes (red, yellow or fingerling)

1 pound greens beans, ends trimmed and snapped in half

1/2-3/4 cup basil, coarsely chopped

Place the potatoes into a medium saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until potatoes can be pierced through with a fork.  Place on a towel and let cool to room temperature.  In the meantime, steam the green beans for 5-6 minutes until tender, but not overcooked.  Immediately plunge into ice water to cool and then pat dry with a towel.

When both potatoes and beans are cool, combine them in a large bowl with the basil.  Add the dressing and stir to thoroughly blend.  Taste and add salt and black pepper if needed.

Aunt Suzy Says

This is another great recipe from Lynn Rosetto Kasper’s cookbook The Italian Country Table.  It’s a variation on Panzanella – tomato/bread salad – with the addition of green beans.  It’s beautiful as well as delicious, especially when made with red and yellow tomatoes (or a variety of heirloom tomato colors).   This salad is fast and easy, taking advantage of the current bounty available from gardens and farmers’ markets.  Serve with toasted pine nuts and goat cheese for a main dish salad.

3/4-1 pound fresh green beans

3 to 4 3/4-inch-thick slices of coarse-grain bread

1 large clove of garlic, cut in half

4 ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks

1-2 tablespoons basil, sliced

2 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Splash of red wine vinegar

Salt and black pepper to taste

Prepare the green beans by snapping off the ends and snapping into 2-inch lengths.  Cook the beans by either plunging into boiling water or steaming.  Either method should take about 4-5 minutes to cook to perfection – not too crisp, not too limp.   When finished cooking, plunge into cold water.  Drain and cool, then pat dry in a towel.

Rub a salad bowl with half the garlic.  Toast the bread or, if you’ve got a grill going, grill it.   Rub the bread on both sides with the garlic.  Tear into 1-inch pieces.  Toss the cooled green beans, the tomatoes, bread pieces and basil together in the prepared bowl.

Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and red wine vinegar together.  Add salt and pepper.  Pour over the salad and toss to fully blend all ingredients.

Notes on the ingredients:  Sour-dough based bread is delicious with this salad.  Trader Joe’s has a sour-dough seeded bread that I like to use when I can get it.  This is one of those recipes that you can experiment with amounts of various ingredients, more or less, to your taste.

Aunt Suzy says

Just when I’m stuck for something good to cook, Food and Wine pushes out a recipe into my Facebook feed that says “make me!”.   This one caught my eye  – after all, it’s green bean season – and it is a winner!  I did only a little tweaking of the amounts and method. This is definitely a recipe I will make again (and maybe again).  This was delicious with a Pinot Grigio, but I have a hunch that the perfect match will be a dry French rose.

Margaux says

Yes, Yes, Yes!!!  This is an instant staple in our house.  I couldn’t stop eating it the night I made it, and I can’t wait until I make it again.  We had it with some crusty bread and a Sauvignon Blanc.  But I agree about the rose…we’ll do that next time.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Update July 1, 2013 – this is delicious without the tuna as a side salad.  I just made it and served with grilled chicken and it was outstanding.  I’ve always wondered why someone would think to put orzo with potato salad, but this time I really noticed the mouth appeal of that combination and understood completely!

The Dressing

1/4 cup EV olive oil

juice of one medium lemon

1 large or two small garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)

Combine and whisk all ingredients till thorougly blended and a little emulsified.  Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

The Salad

1 pound green beans, trimmed and snapped in half

1 pound small new potatoes

1 cup orzo

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes

2 six-ounce cans of tuna packed in olive oil, drained

1/4 cup chopped basil

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Place green beans in a steamer, bring water to a boil and steam for 5 minutes or until tender.  Drain and place in a large bowl.  At the same time, place unpeeled potatoes in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until tender.  Drain and cool slightly.  Slice in half or quarters depending on size.  Add to the bowl with the green beans.  Cook the orzo according to directions.  Add to the bowl.  Add 3/4 of the dressing while this mixture is still warm and gently stir to blend.

Slice the tomatoes in half.  Chop the basil and parsley.  Add the tomatoes, herbs and the tuna to the bowl with the remainder of the dressing.  Gently toss to coat all ingredients with the dressing and thoroughly blend.  Garnish with a few small basil leaves.  Serve in individual bowls on a bed of lettuce.

Aunt Suzy says

This was the first weekend for local green beans and the ones from Untiedt’s are really good.   I got the green beans along with the cherry tomatoes for this recipe from them at the downtown farmers market, but I am also lucky to have one of their neighborhood fruit and vegetable stands within walking distance.   I always anticipate the first local green beans, specifically so I can make this recipe!  It has many layers of flavor that surprise in every bite, even though the ingredient list is short.  This can be served as a main dish salad (quinoa is high in protein) or as a side to roast or grilled chicken.  A dry, fruity French rose wine is the perfect pairing.

A note about the ingredients:  The original recipe called for bulgur instead of quinoa.  I have made and like both, but prefer the quinoa for its milder flavor and texture.  I have almost completely switched from using golden quinoa to red quinoa.  I’m not sure if there is a flavor difference, but I like how it looks!  I have also made this recipe with asparagus and it was just as good as with the green beans.  For a prettier salad, you can use multi-colored cherry and grape tomatoes.  For the roasted almonds make sure that you get roasted and salted (unless you have to limit your salt intake).  Trader Joe’s has a product called Tangy and Spicy Dry Roasted Almonds, which have cayenne pepper and lemon added.  If you want to add a little zip to the dish, use these! (July 2013 update:  TJ no longer carries those almonds – sigh.)

1 cup red or golden quinoa, rinsed well

1 1/2 cups water

1 pound thin green beans, trimmed and snapped in half

1/3 cup EV olive oil

juice of 1/2 to one lemon, depending on how juicy

salt and pepper to taste

1 pint cherry tomatoes (2 cups), sliced in half

1/2 cup roasted salted almonds, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely shredded

Place the rinsed quinoa in a saucepan and add the water.  Make sure you rinse or else the quinoa will be bitter when cooked.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff and turn into a large bowl to cool.

Wash the green beans.  Place in a steamer, bring the water to a boil and steam for 5 minutes or until just done.  Alternatively, you can cook the beans directly in boiling water for 5 minutes until just done.  Either way, when done, plunge into ice water to stop the cooking.  Drain and then pat dry in a towel.  When both the beans and the quinoa are mostly cool, combine in the large bowl.

Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper together.  Pour over the quinoa/green bean mixture.  You can make this up to a day ahead.  Prior to serving add the tomatoes, mint and almonds.  Toss to combine thoroughly.  Use some small mint leaves for garnish.  Serve at room temperature.