This is another of the vegetable dishes I made for our slightly reworked Thanksgiving dinner. Between the chaos of cooking a festive dinner and dead batteries in my camera, I didn’t get process shots for any of these dishes.
From Sidney Saylor Farr’s My Appalachia: A Memoir:
The Cherokee Indians cultivated beans long before the European settlers arrived in the early 1700s. Like maize, beans were nutritious and fairly easy to grow, particularly in the rich valley bottomlands in the mountains. For most Appalachian families, green beans, served from the garden, canned, pickled [originally like sauerkraut – GFSC], or dried, became a staple food.
Yep. While the British have their Brussels sprouts as the “quintessential Christmas dinner veg”, we Hillbillies have green beans as the obligatory any large dinner (and a lot of smaller ones) vegetable. 😉 Growing up, I knew a girl whose mother served boiled green beans with every evening meal, every single night, regardless of the other foods! (The daughter’s description of her cooking: “It’s very nutritious, but…”) That’s pretty extreme, but I do love my green beans.
Tagging this post, I was more than a little surprised that I hadn’t posted anything involving green beans yet.
This is a fairly basic (and classic) tomato-stewed dish, a lot like the previous stewed okra, but I decided to jazz it up a little with bacon and a little fresh chile. This provided a pretty nice contrast to the milder-flavored coconut milk “creamed” succotash It would have been a shame not to have served any tomatoes at a “New World”-themed dinner, now wouldn’t it? 🙂
Bacony tomato-stewed green beans
- 4 slices streaky bacon
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Half a sweet pepper (orange, in this case), chopped
- A green chile, halved with most seeds and ribs removed, then sliced — I had mildish Jalapeño
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
- 1 lb. (400-500g) frozen green beans
- 14 oz. (400g) can chopped tomatoes
- About half a tomato can of water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. sugar, to balance the greenness of the beans
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper — the fresh chile was really mild!
- 3/4-1 tsp. Herbes de Provence (I wanted the rosemary) or Italian seasoning
Fry the bacon crispy in a skillet, and set aside on paper towels. Fry the onion in the same pan over medium-low heat (our bacon was pretty lean, so I added about a tablespoon of fairly neutral sunflower oil) until it’s translucent and starting to brown; add the garlic the last couple of minutes.
Put the chopped sweet pepper and chile in the bottom of a medium-sized pan. (It will float on the top and take longer to cook if you don’t put it under the beans.) Add the fried onion and garlic, then the beans. Pour the tomatoes over the top, and add the seasonings.
With frozen green beans, it’s probably best to bring the pan to a boil and let them thaw out and release some moisture, so you can tell better how much water to add. You want them just covered in liquid.
Simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes, checking occasionally to see if there is still enough liquid and poking the vegetables down with a spoon. Frozen green beans will start falling apart and get a weird texture if you cook them much longer than it takes them to get tender. When everything has reached the level of tenderness you want, add the crumbled bacon and let it cook another 5 or 10 minutes. Stir, and enjoy!
You could also use this as a way to jazz up canned green beans, substituting a couple of cans for the frozen. It’s not bad, but I wanted a little fresher green bean taste.
Leftovers are really, really good served over rice or short pasta shapes, even better with a little Parmegiano or Romano on the top. 🙂