There are a variety of dishes that I wasn’t fond of when I was a kid. I look back and wonder what the heck was wrong with me. Please don’t answer that question for me!
Oddly, I had zero problem with each of the ingredients in this classic Greek summer stew. I’ve always liked green beans, potatoes have been my friend for forever, and I think people who don’t like tomatoes shouldn’t be trusted. But for whatever reason, I just didn’t like them when they were all thrown together. This was of no consequence to my mom who was going to make this anyway and I was going to eat it. And so I did.
Eventually, I not only grew to like it, but to actually really really really like it. It’s such a humble dish, true village fare, but it’s beauty is in its simplicity. Fasolakia Yiahni translates to green bean stew, and it’s traditionally made with just a handful of fresh produce straight from the garden thrown together in the pan to cook in a generous amount of olive oil and simmered to perfection.
Your preference gets to dictate whether it becomes a hearty side dish or its own stand alone meal. Whatever you decide, be sure to have a hefty chunk of bread because you’re going to want it to help soak up every last drop. Don’t be embarrassed, everyone else will be doing it, too.
Some quick notes before you begin:
The wonderful thing about this dish is that it is equally good using fresh or frozen green beans, and fresh or canned tomatoes. As long as you are starting with quality ingredients, you will have a delicious dish.
You can customize how “juicy” you want this stew to be by adjusting the amount of water you add and how long you cook it with a lid on. Just be sure to add enough water to completely cook the potatoes.
The amount of olive oil may seem high, but the amount I use is actually on the low side compared to how others prepare it! This is a “lathero” dish, a class of Greek foods traditionally made with a lot of oil (“lathi” is the Greek word for oil). It adds weight to the meal without being heavy, and also adds so much flavor. Make sure to use a good oil, extra virgin would be best.
Fasolakia Yiahnee (Greek Green Bean and Potato Stew) Recipe
- 1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
- 1/2 to 3/4 lb. yellow onion, sliced
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely minced (about 1 Tbsp.)
- 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes (or 3 1/2 to 4 cups chopped fresh tomatoes)
- 1 or more cups of water
- 2 to 2 1/2 pounds potatoes (like Russet), cut into chunks, peeled if desired
- 1 1/2 pounds green beans, stem ends trimmed and strings removed if necessary (frozen can also be used)
- salt and pepper to taste
Put the olive oil in a large pan or stock pot. Add onions and turn heat to high. Once the onions start to sizzle, turn down the heat to medium, and sauté the onions until they are translucent and just starting to darken a little in color. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent them from scorching. Add the garlic, stir, and continue to cook a minute more.
Add in the tomatoes and one cup of water and stir in. Bring the heat up until the tomatoes start to bubble then add in the potatoes, green beans, salt and pepper. Gently mix everything together, trying to keep the potatoes in the liquid as much as possible. Turn the heat down to a low simmer and cover.
Gently stir the stew every few minutes. Add more water as needed to soften the potatoes and to have the desired amount of liquid for your stew. Once the potatoes are tender enough to be pierced with a fork, the stew is done. Adjust the amount of salt and pepper as needed. You can even add more olive oil if desired (oh, it’s really good!). Serve with a chunk of hearty bread to soak up every last drop of liquid! Kali orexi! (Good appetite!)