Tuesday, August 5, 2014

You're My Soul and Inspiration

Green beans in stewed tomatoes!  Where have you been all my life?!  I can't believe how good these are.  And when I asked my sister M, she said oh yeah, our grandma used to make them all the time, with cumino. It's certainly nothing huge but it's these types of simple (and cheap!) recipes that fascinate and delight me.  I may have passed them by on a buffet line before thinking that the two didn't go together. Boy was I wrong.
This week these were served at work along with a few other things I can't eat so I took a double portion and that's when I fell in love.  I figured it must be a southern recipe made by Sunshine, my cook in the staff cafeteria that I'm secretly married to because he makes me food that I love.  His jerk chicken is heaven.  He's from the south and had a brother that worked there called Country that called everybody Andy for some reason but he'd pronounce it like Don Knotts on the Andy Griffith Show.
I loved everything about that show.  I could heavily relate to it's cast of whacked out characters. It helped me to put humor into some of my real life non-funny situations, like with drunk Otis.  It helped me understand that all adults were not considered equal and there were lots who didn't act right or smart or even sane much of the time.  But as Andy did, if you look at them with some sense of playfulness, they went down much easier.  This was a great tool.  TV was a good friend of mine as a kid.  People knock it and I see why for sure.  But I played all the time like a wild dog outside, got plenty of exercise and had a great imagination.  TV & movies helped me so much to escape and learn about people outside of my backwoods mentality neighborhood and tiny world view.  

Sunshine has several 'wives' there so I feel it's best to keep my affair private and just between me.  Even he doesn't know.  But I always give him a little tap on the shoulder when he makes something spectacular and say thanks.
I ran home that night and looked up the recipe and got cracking on making a batch.  Saveur.com said not to over cook the beans but to keep some bite, so I did and they were ...okay.  I really love bite left in my green veggies, normally.  But this might just be an occasion to let them stew a bit in order to relinquish their sweetness, get soft in order to absorb all that tart tangy tomatoey goodness.  
Maybe this is a Lebanese dish called Loubieh, or maybe it's Italian or Spanish, perhaps its one of these things that everyone discovered and make their own because in searching I see several entries and even a deep south version.  Most are about the same, onion, garlic, green beans and tomatoes with an herb or spice from the region.  You could add bacon but they don't need it.  The Lebanese version has chickpeas which will be my next conception.  

I'm trying out including real recipes, or at least an ingredient list.  Why? Not sure. Like I've said before, I myself am not a good recipe follower but I do like looking at the list and getting the general concept.  There are so many ways to get the recipes but maybe it'll save you a click.  This one is from www.FoodandWine.com.  So I added cumin and oregano instead of paprika but I bet that's good too.

  1. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably canola
  2. 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  3. 12 garlic cloves, 6 minced
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  5. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  6. 1 1/2 pounds green beans
  7. One 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
  8. Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the sliced onion and cook over moderate heat until translucent and softened, about 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans and 6 whole garlic cloves and cook for about 2 minutes, tossing to coat the beans.
  2. Pour the diced tomatoes and their juices into the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the green beans are very tender, about 40 minutes. Season the braised green beans with salt and pepper. Transfer them to a platter and serve warm or at room temperature.
MAKE AHEAD The braised green beans can be refrigerated overnight

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