italian flat beans with tomatoes and garlic

When ani was a kid she remembers her women relatives making flat beans and tomatoes (fasoulia) in the summer without lamb meat, which is the traditional combination ingredient. So when she spotted the Italian flat beans in the piazza market below our summer home in Rome, her first thought was to recreate that simple dish. Bob was initially skeptical, but the result turned out to be the best green bean tomato dish he had ever experienced under the Sark-cuisine umbrella.  Italian flat beans are just not part of the US mass food distribution system, BUT upon our return, we discovered them in our local farmer's market and snapped them up again. Meanwhile, later that summer we are treated to a delicious Italian flat bean and tomato sauce penne rigate dish courtesy of our Napolitano-Agropolesi friends. And at least phonetically in the local dialect, "fassoulia" is the same word they use for the green bean and tomato combination, undoubtedly from the Arab influence on this region in earlier days perhaps.

Italian flat beans are sort of like the bean version of Chinese snow peas, you eat the whole pods and the beans inside do not really develop like in other beans where you pop them out of the pods to eat. They just don't seem to have found a place in the American mass food distribution system.

ingredients

a bunch of flat beans (1/2 lb?)
extra virgin olive oil
a few shallots, chopped (or a small onion if unavailable)
a few garlic cloves, diced or pressed
5 or 6 fresh plum tomatoes, or the equivalent, chopped
salt to taste

instructions

  1. Clean the flat beans, snapping or cutting off their ends, cut in half if too long, then boil them 5-7 minutes until tender.
  2. Saute the shallots in olive oil with a bit of salt until softened, then briefly the garlic, then dump in the beans and continue for another 5 minutes or so to coat the beans with the garlicky olive oil.
  3. Then dump in the chopped tomatoes, and perhaps 1/4 c water if there is not enough liquid from the tomatoes alone, and then simmer in the sauce on low heat for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Check for salt.

notes

  1. Clearly this is an approximate recipe quantitatively, you can adjust to the quantity of beans you wish to cook up.
  2. Various Mediterranean terms for green beans with tomatoes: Armenian: Fasulya (fassoulia), Fasolia (Greek, Arabic).
  3. Italian Flat Green Beans With Tomatoes and Garlic, Washington Post, 2008. Very close to Ani's recipe.
  4. Palestinian Laila's blog in Oman: Fasolia Khadra Bi Banadora (Green Beans with Tomato Sauce).
  5. Agropoli is the next large city after Salerno south of the Amalfi Coast. The famous Greek ruins at Paestum are nearby slightly to the north.
  6. Illustrations available, including the pasta application.
flatbeans.htm: 3-sep-2011 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]