Day 19: Green Beans with Basil ♥

A spring vegetable? No, a late summer or fall vegetable
~ recipe updated & photo added in 2007 ~

2005: Day 19! April is 2/3 gone and it feels as if we're just getting started! Is there a summer of experimentation in our future? We shall see. If tonight's green beans are a summer forecast, perhaps. Even with supermarket beans and basil, this has some essence of what summer should taste like.

2007: 'Beans with basil' is not a good name for this dish, since it suggests fresh green beans bright with summer basil flavor, yes? A better name would be 'stewed beans and tomato', a fall name, something suggesting beans cooked til they're soft (an idea which cause tremors in many, sorry), paired with tomatoes that turn deep and dark, and paired together, yes, entirely delicious. It just takes a long time for beans to cook in a skillet and they turn color. Know that. And by the time the beans are cooked, they'll be soft and the tomato will be broken into tiny pieces. Know that too. But know that together, they'll also be slow-cooked good.

Active time: About 20 minutes
Time to table: About 30 minutes
Serves 4 generously

1 tablespoon olive oil (reduced from 3 tablespoons, see nutrition impact, below)
1 large onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic (yes, from a jar is good ...)
1 pound green beans
1/2 cup water
1 summer tomato (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 cup fresh basil, chopped finely (see TIPS)
Salt & pepper

In a large, deep skillet with a cover, heat oil on MEDIUM HIGH. Chop onion. When oil is shimmery, add onion and garlic and cook until soft and just beginning to brown. While onion cooks, wash beans, break off stem ends and break each bean into about three pieces. Add beans and water (and tomatoes and basil as they're ready) to skillet, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM and let simmer until beans are fully cooked, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

  • 2005: Even the best of roma tomatoes are a taste waste. Another time, I'd include tomatoes only if they're real garden-grown tomatoes, the ones we gorge on in summer and lust for in winter. 2007: A summer tomato was perfect. But if you like idea of this dish when summer tomatoes aren't available, I'd substitute slices of sun-dried tomato before a hard-as-rock supermarket tomato.
  • To quickly chop basil, pile large leaves flat, one on top of another. Roll jelly-roll fashion, holding tight with your fingers. Make one or two slits length-wise without cutting completely through, then cut cross-wise, cutting strips as thin as possible.
  • 2007: These beans took a lot of salt, I seasoned them several times during the cooking process. I wouldn't recommend waiting til the end.

Made with 1 tablespoon olive oil: Per Serving: 95 Cal (32% from Fat; 3g Protein; 4g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 15g Carb; 5g Fiber; 75mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 11mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Made with 3 tablespoons olive oil: Per Serving: 154 Cal (57% from Fat); 3g Protein; 10g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 15g Carb; 5g Fiber; 75mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 11mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 3 points

Adapted from the May 2005 issue of Bon Appetit (the issue just arrived over the weekend so the recipes aren't yet posted on Epicurious)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.