Green beans and tomatoes have such an affinity for each other, there are recipes where the beans are cooked IN the tomato sauce. That idea, led to this recipe, and what a tasty recipe it is!
After picking up some fresh green beans it took some deciding on how to prepare them. I started thinking of how tomato goes so well with them, then I spotted the summer squash, while perusing the contents of my fridge. There was also zucchini and mushrooms, but once I saw the squash I knew what a great colour contrast it would make. I did have some Roma tomatoes on the counter, but a further check of my cupboards revealed one last can of the most delicious tomato product I’ve found in some time. Über sweet, cherry tomatoes in a sauce that’s so fresh, they just taste of summer!
Check out that colour; I gave it just a quick few minute simmer to preserve it, not wanting the long simmered taste that smacks of heavier fall and winter cooking. That’ll come soon enough.
Preserving the colour & freshness of the green beans was also key. A few minutes in boiling, salted water, a dip in an ice water bath and then some serious hanging out time draining in a colander. The beans can be made a day or two ahead, and stored covered in the fridge. Are you smart about things when you’re cooking…? Have you heard the motto: cook once, use twice! Prep extra when cooking, and some ready to go for another meal.
When tasting, it occurred to me how this would make a delicious and healthy gluten free substitute for pasta. The texture of the slightly al dente beans was close to that of pasta, and did remind me of my absolute favourite pasta ‘moment’ – biting though a perfectly cooked and twirled fork of linguine. Aaaaaah.
The contrast of the not-quite-hot temperature of the sauce and the room temperature of the beans was just what I was after. The short simmer of the sauce left some of the cherry tomatoes whole, and the firmness of the summer squash added some texture, and bite.
I also chose to thinly slice the garlic, wanting the subtle taste, yet texture, that it provides. All that was missing, seriously… was a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. The only reason I didn’t, was because I was (shockingly) out of it. Next time.
- 4 handfuls fresh green beans (picture how much you’d use per serving and take it from there)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1/2 medium onion, cut into small dice
- 1 small yellow summer squash (could also use zucchini)
- 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
- *1x 400 gram can Italian cherry tomatoes in juice
- Pinch Kosher salt
- Pinch, freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped Italian parsley, for garnish
- Grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish (not necessary but would add a lot of flavour)
- Put a large pot of water to boil. While you're waiting, rinse and trim the beans however you like. (I removed the tops, but left the tails!)
- When the water is boiling, add salt, then beans and cook, until tender but still somewhat crisp, for approx 3 - 5 minutes. (Don't overcook or they will become that unappetizing grey colour).
- Drain beans and plunge right into a large bowl of ice water; this will stop the cooking and set the colour nicely. Drain well and set aside. (This step can be done a day or two before, keeping them covered in the fridge.)
- In medium sauce pot, add the oil, butter and onion, then put the pot on medium heat; this will start the onion cooking slowly. When you hear it starting to sizzle, add a pinch of salt & pepper and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the squash, and let cook for another 5 minutes (cook longer if you want it softer.)
- Stir in garlic and cook for just another minute, when the fragrance wafts up to greet you!
- Add the cherry tomatoes and their juice, another pinch of salt & pepper, and simmer for 4 - 5 minutes, when some of the tomatoes just start to break down. Remove it immediately from the heat. You can add a bit of parsley now, and some later as a bright garnish.
- Serve this hot, warm or even at room temperature. Any leftovers would be great on pasta, polenta or even as a pizza topping (I’ve tried this and it’s wickedly good!)
- *If you can’t find this product, substitute with tomato passata and some fresh cherry tomatoes (or whatever combo you can make).