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.
- 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
- Clean the flat beans, snapping or cutting off their ends, cut in half if
too long, then boil them 5-7 minutes until tender.
- 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.
- 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.
- Check for salt.
Clearly this is an approximate recipe quantitatively, you can adjust to the
quantity of beans you wish to cook up.
Various Mediterranean terms for green beans with tomatoes:
Fasolia (Greek, Arabic).
Italian Flat Green Beans With Tomatoes and Garlic,
Washington Post, 2008. Very close to Ani's recipe.
Palestinian Laila's blog in Oman:
Fasolia Khadra Bi Banadora (Green Beans with Tomato Sauce).
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.
Illustrations available, including the