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.

Penne with Herbs, Tomatoes, Olives and Pecorino

Margaux says…

This pasta salad caught my eye on “Food and Wine” because of the olives and tomatoes…I really love that combo of flavors in a pasta salad.  But what made this excellent is the mixed herb pesto that you toss it with, and the shaved pecorino that you toss in after it’s completely cooled, so that it doesn’t melt.  This dish has a ton of flavor and will be in regular rotation on our “pasta Wednesdays” in the summer!

Penne with Herbs, Tomatoes, Olives and Pecorin0

adapted from Food and Wine

1 pound penne

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup basil leaves

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 garlic cloves, halved

2 teaspoons coarsely chopped thyme

2 teaspoons coarsely chopped marjoram

Salt

1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes—halved, seeded and quartered

1/3 cup Calamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 cup coarsely grated Tuscan Pecorino cheese (3 ounces)

Freshly ground pepper

Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the penne and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large serving bowl.  Let sit to get to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the basil, parsley, garlic, thyme, marjoram with 1/3 cup of olive oil.  Add more olive oil if you think it’s necessary…the original recipe called for 1/2 cup, but I felt that was a little much.  Scrape into the bowl with the pasta and season with salt, then toss together.

Then toss in the tomatoes and olives and let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes to develop flavor. Just before serving, add the Pecorino, season with salt and pepper and toss well.

MAKE AHEAD The pasta can be tossed up to 2 hours ahead.

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

This past week, the New York Times had a group of risottos in it’s “Recipes for Health” column that combined different grains or rices with the traditional risotto rice, Arborio.  They all caught my eye, but I started with this one because I have wanted to make something with farro for a while and have not.  This dish is a WOW!  The herbs and lemon add freshness to the taste and the farro creates a wonderful  chewy mouth appeal.  We served with an Italian Orvieto white wine and a green salad.  This falls into the “easy” category except for the need to stand at the stove and stir for about 40 minute.  Totally worth it!

NOTE:  I like this blog post from The Chef In You about farro and how to cook it.  I found “pearled” farro in bulk at our local coop.  It also comes in semi-pearled and non-pearled varieties, the latter of which needs to be pre-soaked. If you can’t find it locally, you can order from Amazon or here.

Makes 6 servings

6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock (I used chicken)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed thoroughly of sand

Salt to taste

2 plump garlic cloves, minced

2/3 cup Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 cups cooked farro (1 cup uncooked)

2 cups chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, basil, chives, thyme (I used a cup of parsley, a cup of basil and 2 tablespoons lemon thyme)

Freshly ground pepper

2 ounces grated Parmesan (1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Cook the farro according to directions and set aside.

Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan, then turn the heat to low.  Make sure this is on a burner handy to the main pan you will cook the risotto in.

Heat the oil a large saute pan or heavy saucepan on medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add a generous pinch of salt, the garlic and the rice. Cook, stirring, for about 3 more minutes.

Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until absorbed and almost evaporated. Next, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock – enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly (adjust heat accordingly). Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful or two of the stock and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, stirring often and adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 15 minutes.

Stir in the farro and more stock to cover and continue to cook, adding more stock as necessary and stirring often, for another 10 minutes or until the rice is cooked through but al dente.   If it is still hard in the middle, you need to continue adding stock and stirring for another 5 minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasonings.  NOTE:  Make sure you watch for dryness and stir often as the mixture tended to stick once the farro was added.

Stir in the herbs and fresh pepper (be generous), add another ladleful of stock and continue to cook, stirring, for a minute.  Finally, add the Parmesan and the lemon juice, stir together and remove from the heat. The risotto should be creamy; if it isn’t, add a little more stock.  Stir once, taste and adjust seasonings, and serve.  Prepare for your taste buds to be delighted!

Aunt Suzy says

Another great no-cook recipe to beat the heat!  Salon.com has a recipe contest every week called Kitchen Challenge.  Two weeks ago the theme was “your tastiest raw tomato dishes” and this recipe was chosen as the best.  It caught my eye because it used many of my favorite ingredients all put into a sandwich – and it comes with a great story!   This is the second time we’ve made it – and we might make it again this summer as long as the tomatoes are so delicious.   This is one of those recipes that you can add or subtract the ingredients you use to your taste.  For example, we did not use the hard-boiled egg and we added sliced Hungarian peppers to give it a little zing.

I know that many people are growing and buying heirloom varieties (which I love), but I must say a classic red, round homegrown tomato will be the ticket for this recipe.  We served it with both a Spanish Rose wine (last time) and yesterday with a white Cotes du Rhone.

Sliced ripe tomato

2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

Italian tuna packed in olive oil

Cooked cannellini beans

Green or black olives (or a combo), sliced in half

Thinly sliced red onion

Fresh mint and basil leaves

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Crusty sourdough or ciabatta (rolls or loaf)

Slice the bread in half and toast to desired doneness.  Sprinkle each side with a little olive oil.  Put all or some of the ingredients on the bread in any order that you want.  Dig in!!

Here’s a pic of my sandwich using a sourdough roll from Trader Joe’s.

And below is a photo of Randy’s sandwich on ciabatta.  We agreed that we liked the ciabatta better, but both were good.