green beans and tomatoes
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A match made in heaven, green beans and tomatoes are for me the classic summery dish. Some may be surprised at that - isn't it the midwinter when we crave beans on toast with tomato ketchup? Well - we need to specify the vegetable here.
Say ‘beans’ and a lot of people will think of legumes: edible seeds in inedible pods. Borlotti, cannellini, black, kidney or broad (fava), all except the last are a completely different kettle of fish. Their place is in a cassoulet, falafel, chilli or on toast – firmly winter fodder. Apparently legumes are now contentious - thankfully only for the paleolytics who believe the caveman didn’t know how to shell the pods and so we shouldn’t either. But no need to consider the ridiculousness of that principle now.
Beans in the dish here are the pods with seeds inside, all of it edible. Confusingly known under a variety of monikers: French, green, string or snap beans, they come in different colours as well – yellow (wax), purple or green. It’s the fresh and snappy stalks, with good reason called ‘asparagus beans’ in some languages, that we’re on about here.
It’s quite incredible what difference freshness makes to vegetables. I’m lucky to have beans straight from their stalks at the bottom of the garden and tomatoes from just outside my windows. Use tired, wilted Kenyan saddos plus supermarket, picked-too-early fruit and you’ll be totally puzzled what’s to like in my dish. But local or farmers markets will do better – make sure the beans are firm and tomatoes ripe, and you’re in for a treat.
green beans and tomatoesServings: 2Time: 20 minutes
- 300g (10oz.) green or yellow (French or Italian) string beans; or a mix
- ½ kg (1 pound) ripe mixed tomatoes
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ green or red chili, deseeded and finely sliced
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- basil leaves and almond flakes, for garnish
1. Wash, top and tail the beans. Place them in a large pan with water, bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking further.
2. Halve the tomatoes, quarter larger ones. Squeeze out the seeds and water. In a large pan – you can use the same as for cooking beans – heat up the olive oil and add the chili. Add tomatoes with the salt and sugar and cook on medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, turning them over once or twice, until they soften.
3. Return the beans to the pan and stir gently for a few minutes so that the beans heat up.
4. Serve sprinkled with basil leaves and almond flakes.