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Old Country Herb Braised Green Beans

When I was a girl, there was such a thing as the Old Country – the place where the world still operated with magic and must.  Small old men with thick accents knew languages that had intensity, a depth of experience that ordinary talking could never meet. The ancient women’s eyes smiled with secret ways.  Communities felt close and happy even without modern luxuries.

While the world has shrunk, these are Old Country beans.  Cooked slowly over the lowest flame (ok, it’s a modern stove), they afford ample time for stories and ideas to bubble as the green beans slowly cook.  This modest vegetable, humbly prepared, is ridiculously delicious. Without going too squishy-feely here, these beans are a reminder that even the most simple among us can be transformed with patience and time.

Enjoy alone, over rice, or as a side dish.  Serves 2-4.

NOTE:  For spicy addicts, you can also add a chopped hot pepper (Jalapeno, Serrano, etc) when you sauté onion and garlic.

Braised Green Beans with Tomato Old Country Style

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Cups Green Beans, cut in thirds (flat Romano type or large/ mature green string beans)
  • 2 chopped tomatoes or (About 1 ½ Cups chopped) – Can use canned
  • ½ Yellow Onion chopped
  • ½ small red onion, chopped (Can also use whole yellow onion)
  • 3 Large Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil (olive, avocado, peanut or other oil of your choice)
  • ½ Cup mixed chopped Parsley/Dill/Basil/Thyme (use what you have and/or to taste)
  • 1 Cup vegetable broth (can use water but will require extra salt and pepper for flavor)
  • 1 Tsp Lemon Juice or Balsamic Vinegar (Optional)
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

HOW TO MAKE IT:

  1. Heat the oil on medium-high heat in a medium heavy saucepan that has a tight lid.  Add the garlic and onion and saute for about 3 minutes, until soft but not brown.  You may need to reduce the heat.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté for one minute more.
  3. Add green beans and stir well.
  4. Add the broth or water to submerge beans, chopped herbs and sir.  Simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and maintain a gentle simmer.  Simmer for 30-60 minutes.
  5. Add salt and pepper, stirring well. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.  For a bit more tang, add optional lemon juice or vinegar (this works well with canned tomatoes).
  6. Cook uncovered for up to 15 minutes more to allow some of the liquid to evaporate if too soupy. Beans should be soft but not mushy and intensely flavorful.
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