Thursday, September 3, 2015

Fasolakia: Greek green bean and tomato stew

Look at me, following through on my promises/intentions with respect to blogging! Better go check to see if your pigs have sprouted wings.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the Greek green bean and tomato stew mentioned at the end of my last post. My version is less soupy than many recipes I've seen for this dish (most of the liquid comes from the vegetables themselves), and also relies on fresh rather than canned tomatoes. Typing this up I realize that aside from the work of trimming the beans, this is a dead-simple recipe. I also suspect the basic technique of building a base of sauteed aromatics, tomato, and spices could be adapted to lots of other flavor combinations (I'm pretty sure this is similar to the process of making a South Asian curry, in fact).


Fasolakia (Greek green bean and tomato stew)

Adapted from The Greek Vegan

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, chopped fairly fine
5 cloves garlic, crushed through a garlic press
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 C water
scant 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp dried dill
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 lb green beans, washed and trimmed, and cut into 2" lengths
4 to 6 medium tomatoes, diced
cooked rice
feta, Parmesan, or chèvre cheese

Heat the olive oil in a wide, deep skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and saute a minute or two more.

Add the tomato paste, water, and spices, and stir together into a paste. Add the green beans and toss to coat with the seasonings. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a few more tablespoons of water if the beans are too dry and begin to stick to the pan.

Add the tomatoes, turn the heat down to medium-low, and simmer 40 minutes more. Don't undercook! This dish is best when the beans are meltingly soft.

Serve over cooked rice, topped with crumbled feta, chèvre, or grated Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


  1. This dish looks amazing, Sarah! As do the ones in yesterday's post ... I was just going to comment on those (which I read about this morning) when I saw your new post --- way to go with follow-through!! I was planning on telling you that although I haven't made much progress on the "cooking with what's on hand" front (as you do so well), our daughter HAS! There were a few times this summer when she had to fend for herself after work, and rather than grabbing some leftovers from the fridge, she rummaged around and cobbled together her own creations (spices and all). What a gift, to be able to have that confidence and ability in the kitchen :)

    I've just come in from our incredibly weedy and overgrown garden - oh my, what a mess we've got going on out there! (This is why I love snow; it covers up weedy messes so nicely!) Ah well, there's always next year ... and the farmer's market to top up on the quantities I had hoped to be able to freeze for the winter. I remember you had said you wanted to grow "all" the tomatoes, but from the sounds of your last post, you might be coming up short on that as well?

    Oh, and just wanted to say, you have a lovely view out your kitchen window, and a nice wide ledge for plants, which I've always thought was a really nice feature in a house. (We had that in house #1, but not in any of 2 through 4). Is there a secret to growing basil? Maybe watering from the saucer (like african violets)? I seem to have no luck keeping basil alive, either indoors or out ...

    1. How cool re: your daughter in the kitchen! You know, I really think about 95% of it is confidence (vs. ability)...go for it. :-)

      Re: tomatoes, hm, I think I was mostly just being hyperbolic/cute with "grow all the tomatoes." The blossom end rot is annoying, but we're not losing whole swathes of our crop -- I've been able to cut off the bottom and then salvage most of the fruit. A bit ugly, but makes for some really great homemade marinara sauce. I do think that we've gotten larger tomato crops in the past -- this year and last our yield hasn't been quite as good (paradoxically, I think because it has been so hot and dry). So I'm not freezing a lot of tomatoes but I'm not really complaining about the yield we are getting.

      Yes, I love our plant ledge on the kitchen window! We have standard narrow windowsills in the rest of the house. Those beautiful wide windowsills seem like a characteristic European (maybe Northern European -- definitely something I drool over in pics from Dutch and Scandinavian home blogs) thing, and it has always baffled me why we don't have them in North America. So useful!

      As for basil -- actually, I've never been that successful with it myself. I've never tried growing it inside, but we put some in the garden each year. It always seems to be a battle to keep up with cutting off the flowers (that's what you see in the picture -- it's cut basil in a vessel of water, not an actual plant). I wonder if chilly nighttime temperatures are the flowering cue? That could explain why it always seems to start flowering so early in the season around here, and I imagine that would also pertain where you live.