This dish is a staple at many of our church functions. I hated it when I was a kid. Then someone made a simple change to the recipe.
The difference was the green beans. Since these green beans were usually being prepared for a large crowd, convenience was the goal for those in the kitchen. That meant that the preference was to use canned green beans and canned tomatoes. As it turns out, I hate canned green beans. Hate is a strong word. I really hate canned green beans.
To me, the taste and the texture is just all wrong. You are free to disagree with me, but you’ll still be wrong. The first time I had these beans when I actually liked them, no, LOVED them, they had been made with frozen green beans. Still easy, but so much better because they still had the fresh taste.
During summer, fresh green beans and truly ripe tomatoes are more readily available, so I’ll load my basket up when I can. During the rest of the year, frozen green beans and canned diced tomatoes work just as well as long as they are good quality. There is only a slight difference in preparation, since the frozen beans will cook more quickly than the fresh. The details are in the easy recipe below. This recipe can easily be multiplied to make larger quantities for freezing in smaller batches!
Greek Green Beans with Tomatoes (Fasolakia) Recipe
- 1 lb. fresh green beans, stems trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch lengths, or frozen green beans
- 2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced (about 3/4 pound)
- 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. pine nuts
- 1 pound fresh tomatoes, chopped in chunks (there is no need to skin or remove seeds from the tomatoes; avoid the Roma type as they are too dry), you can also use canned diced tomatoes, instead
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
In a pan, add the oil and onions, place on the stove and turn heat to high. Once the onions start to sizzle, drop the heat to medium and continue to sauté until the onions are translucent and just beginning to brown. Add more oil as needed to keep the onions from sticking and burning. Add the pine nuts and garlic and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes more.
Add the tomatoes, dried basil, and salt and mix in. Cover the pan for a few minutes to allow the heat to extract the juices out of the tomatoes. Uncover the pan and cook the tomatoes down to thicken the mixture. Be sure to stir the mixture regularly to keep things from burning. If you are using frozen green beans you will want to cook the tomatoes down more as there will be a lot of moisture that will come out from the beans. When you pull a spatula through the tomatoes and it leaves a clear trail that stays for a bit, it is cooked down enough. If using fresh beans, you will want to leave more moisture to help cook them. You can always add water if the mixture seems too dry, or cook it down if it seems too liquidy.
Add the beans to the tomatoes and mix together. Cover and allow to cook for a few minutes. Uncover and stir to keep from scorching. Repeat until the beans are cooked to your preference. This can be eaten as a meal by itself, or as a hearty vegetable side dish. Keep this in mind for your next Thanksgiving in place of that other green bean dish!