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String Beans

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Frank Deis

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String Beans

by Frank Deis » Tue May 07, 2013 10:29 pm

My son recently bought a house in Philadelphia. Before he did we went down to have a look at it (it's in Fishtown in North Phila). While driving back we listened to "The Splendid Table" and were fascinated by a recipe for Greek String Beans -- which are slow-cooked with garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes -- I tried the recipe tonight.

http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/gr ... reen-beans

The slow cooking produces very soft beans, which are a lot like what my Mom and Grandmother produced (Southern cooking) mostly using pressure cookers, when I was growing up. A more "modern" version, and very delicious, is the Tuscan version by Mario Bugialli

Cut up one or two red (purple) onions and fry in an iron skillet. "Blanch" about a pound of string beans for 10 min -- boil in water. They will not be tender. Put the blanched green beans on top of the onions. DO NOT STIR. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Chop a couple of tablespoons of Italian Parsley, and a tablespoon or 2 of chives. Stir into beans, cook a while longer and serve. [EDIT] also stir in some red wine vinegar... recipe says 2 tablespoons![/EDIT]

Both of these are delicious but very different.
Last edited by Frank Deis on Sat May 11, 2013 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Robin Garr

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Re: String Beans

by Robin Garr » Tue May 07, 2013 10:57 pm

Interestingly, I did something kind of similar just tonight, making Mary some comfort food: Green beans, cut into 2-inch lengths, cooked with browned onions, garlic, red and black pepper in a little oil and just a splash of liquid, cooked covered for about 25 minutes and seasoned partway through with a good shake of smoked Spanish paprika, a tablespoon of tomato paste and a splash of tamari. Let it cook until the beans are soft but not falling apart, then remove the cover and reduce until the liquid's a glaze. The flavors concentrate into a glaze (I'm not going to call this a "braise" this time, don't want to fight that war again :mrgreen: ) and the smoked paprika and onions give it a really amazing bacony-hammy flavor for a meatless dish. I've got a picture in the iPhone, will post in the food thread later.
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Re: String Beans

by Frank Deis » Wed May 08, 2013 3:46 am

Robin, Yum!! Another recipe for me to try.

It is amazing how much flavor you can get from the simple string bean.

I think I like the Tuscan version a little better than the Greek version. But Kasper (Splendid Table) has a very intriguing way of writing her recipes...
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Re: String Beans

by David Creighton » Thu May 09, 2013 12:42 pm

wait a .... hold it! boil for 10 minutes and not be tender? is this on mt.everest? i'm not a fan of obviously crunchy veggies; but omg, 10 minutes?
david creighton
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Frank Deis

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Re: String Beans

by Frank Deis » Thu May 09, 2013 2:09 pm

David Creighton wrote:wait a .... hold it! boil for 10 minutes and not be tender? is this on mt.everest? i'm not a fan of obviously crunchy veggies; but omg, 10 minutes?


"Tender" is a relative term. Sure, they are edible, but we are aiming at an old school European dish here. The final result has beans that are truly tender without being soft and melted. The OTHER recipe I posted is really old school and produces beans that barely hold their shape, as is considered desirable in Greece or Turkey, or in Virginia when I was growing up.

You crunchy bean people, just don't bother cooking them at all, I won't bother you about that...

But that's not the only way to do it. And there is an element of deliciousness that comes in with breaking down some of the structure in the bean.
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Re: String Beans

by Dale Williams » Sat May 11, 2013 10:52 am

Did this (the splendid table Greek version, though had no dried dill and used fresh thyme) and thought it very good. Betsy looked at me like I had 2 heads when I piled oil, garlic, beans and tomato in a cold pan. I have to say the not stirring part is hard! But worked out well, and I'll try the Mario Bugialli version next.
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Re: String Beans

by Frank Deis » Sat May 11, 2013 5:14 pm

I took another look at the Bugialli recipe and I left out the red wine vinegar -- 2 tablespoons at the end.

Here is what the recipe says
1 1/2 pounds string beans
coarse grained salt
1 medium red onion, cleaned (and thinly sliced)
5 tablespoons olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 ounce fresh chives, cleaned
15 large sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

The vinegar is used to deglaze the pan once the beans etc are removed from the frying pan, and then the sauce is reduced slightly and poured over the beans and onions.
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Re: String Beans

by Frank Deis » Sat May 11, 2013 9:03 pm

I have to say I am very tickled by this

Karen/NoCa wrote: One side will be the recent Greek, green beans cooked in layers with garlic, beans, tomatoes. I am using plum tomatoes called Tesoro, that have proven to be very tasty after cooking.


I wish I had known about the dill, we HAVE dill in the fridge and I can imagine it would really enhance the flavor...
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Re: String Beans

by Jenise » Sun May 12, 2013 11:50 am

Frank Deis wrote:But that's not the only way to do it. And there is an element of deliciousness that comes in with breaking down some of the structure in the bean.


I fully agree. When I was a baby, Gerber's strained green beans was one of my two favorite foods, and it's the flavor of long-cooked green beans. Still love the long-cooked flavor to this day!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: String Beans

by GeoCWeyer » Sat May 18, 2013 2:55 pm

David Creighton wrote:wait a .... hold it! boil for 10 minutes and not be tender? is this on mt.everest? i'm not a fan of obviously crunchy veggies; but omg, 10 minutes?


As I recall from years past in freezing beans I used to blanch about 3 minutes. 10 seems a bit to long to me also.
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Re: String Beans

by Jenise » Sun May 19, 2013 1:30 pm

GeoCWeyer wrote:
David Creighton wrote:wait a .... hold it! boil for 10 minutes and not be tender? is this on mt.everest? i'm not a fan of obviously crunchy veggies; but omg, 10 minutes?


As I recall from years past in freezing beans I used to blanch about 3 minutes. 10 seems a bit to long to me also.


Ten minutes will get you a certain result which may be desirable in some situations, but technically that's not 'blanched'. Boiled, yes.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Frank Deis

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Re: String Beans

by Frank Deis » Sun May 19, 2013 2:30 pm

I agree that "blanching" normally means a shorter period of time, and is used to set the color more than anything else.

I thought I was quoting Giuliano Bugialli but with everyone getting so excited about this important point I thought I would look it up.

"Soak the beans in a bowl of cold water for 1/2 hour.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of cold water to a boil over medium heat. Clean the beans, removing both ends, and if they are very large, cut them into two pieces. When the water reaches a boil, add coarse salt to taste, then the beans and parboil them for 10 minutes, they should still be very firm."

My beans were "very firm" after 10 minutes of "par-boiling"

To forestall further criticism, yes, specifying "coarse salt" to be added to boiling water is a little silly.

This delicious recipe is "Fagiolini all'erba cippolina" on page 218 of Bugialli's "Foods of Tuscany" -- a cookbook that I love.

It has a large format and is fully of gorgeous color pictures as well as recipes I've used again and again. Out of print for years tho.
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Jeff Grossman/NYC

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Re: String Beans

by Jeff Grossman/NYC » Sun May 19, 2013 5:32 pm

Frank Deis wrote:To forestall further criticism, yes, specifying "coarse salt" to be added to boiling water is a little silly.

Yes and no. I have recently read somewhere about having to translate quantities of kosher salt if you plan to use table salt instead: kosher salt, like other coarse salts, does not pack so well as table salt, so a spoon of it is less salty (so to speak) than a spoon of table salt.

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