Green beans are sometimes touted as the elemental food of the garden, meant to be picked and eaten with a bare toss in the frying pan. But I think that this does most green beans a disservice. Yes, those baby beans, whip-thin with a delicate skin, are very nice when eaten nearly raw. But most mature green beans are really more delicious after a long, slow braise — toothsome, but not mushy, with fibers broken down into savory flavors. These beans are my favorite way to enjoy fresh or frozen green beans, braised until tender with onion, garlic, white wine, and a touch of spicy pepper and lemon.
These are crave-worthy green beans, inspired by the Greek-style beans I used to eat at my favorite Greek restaurant. They taste like far more than the sum of their parts. The wine brings out summery flavors in this warm dish, and they turn out soft but not mushy, firm but not crunchy. Use a pinch of chili pepper for spice, or two if you really want to warm things up.
When I want a spicy, tangy vegetable dish to eat as a side dish or on its on, over rice, these really hit the spot, with a lovely aromatic flavor that comes from long cooking. I had these alone for dinner last night and they were both warming and satisfying.
Greek-Style Braised Green Beans
1 pound fresh or frozen green beans
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 large Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve
If the green beans are frozen, thaw at room temperature for about half an hour while prepping the rest of the ingredients. If fresh, wash them and snap off the ends, and snap each bean in half.
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy lidded pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic gently over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until they are soft. Add the red pepper and tomatoes and sauté for another 5 minutes, until the tomato begins to break down.
Stir in the green beans, toss them to coat with the onion and oil. Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the beans are tender to your liking.
Stir in the cinnamon, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.