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Cooking

Try a little tenderness

Variations on long-cooked green beans.

JIM SCHERER / STYLING BY CATRINE KELTY

Photo by JIM SCHERER / STYLING BY CATRINE KELTY

ITALIAN-INSPIRED TOMATO-BRAISED GREEN BEANS

Makes about 6 cups

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

Salt and ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed and each bean halved

1 medium tomato, cored, halved, and grated on the large holes of a box grater (about ¾ cup pulp), skins discarded

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

TIP: Use thick, mature green beans (like the ones at left in the picture) for these recipes. Slender, delicate French-style haricots verts (at right) are not suited to long cooking.

jim scherer

TIP: Use thick, mature green beans (like the ones at left in the picture) for these recipes. Slender, delicate French-style haricots verts (at right) are not suited to long cooking.

In a small Dutch oven over medium heat, heat 1½ tablespoons olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and saute until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to saute about 40 seconds longer. Stir in 2/3 cup water and baking soda, adjust heat to medium-high, and add the beans. Bring to a simmer, adjust heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the tomato pulp and paste and 1 teaspoon salt, adjust heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer, stirring. Adjust the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are very tender but not mushy, 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover pan and set aside, off heat, to rest for at least 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt and black pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature, stirring in the basil and parsley and drizzling with remaining olive oil just before serving.

Variation

TURKISH-INSPIRED TOMATO-BRAISED GREEN BEANS

Follow the directions for Italian-Inspired Tomato-Braised Green Beans, making the following changes:

Continue reading below

1) Increase the quantity of olive oil to 1/3 cup and the number of onions to 2, using ¼ cup olive oil to saute the onions. Omit the crushed red pepper flakes.

2) Substitute ½ cup chopped fresh mint for the basil and parsley, and add 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice with the drizzled olive oil.

3) Serve with lemon wedges and Greek yogurt.

BACON-BRAISED GREEN BEANS

Makes about 6 cups

6 slices thick-cut bacon (about 8 ounces)

3 medium onions, halved and thickly sliced

Salt and pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

1¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed and each bean halved (about 8 cups)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1½ tablespoons cider vinegar

3 scallions, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)

In a small Dutch oven over medium-low heat, fry the bacon until rendered and browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon on paper towels and pour off all but 1½ tablespoons of the fat in the pan. Return the pan to medium heat, add the onions and ½ teaspoon of salt and saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and continue to saute about 40 seconds longer. Add the chicken broth and baking soda, adjust heat to medium-high, and stir to mix. Add the beans and bring to a simmer, stirring. Adjust heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, 3 slices of the bacon, and ¾ teaspoon salt, adjust heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Adjust heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are very tender but not mushy, 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the remaining 3 slices of bacon and set aside. Uncover pan and set aside, off heat, to rest for at least 5 minutes. Remove the bacon from the pot and discard; add the vinegar to the beans and stir to mix. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt if necessary, and ¾ teaspoon black pepper or to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature, stirring in the chopped bacon and the scallions just before serving.

Variation

BACON-BRAISED GREEN BEANS WITH POTATOES

Makes about 10 cups

This variation can easily serve as a light main course.

Follow directions for Bacon-Braised Green Beans, making the following changes: 

1) Ten minutes after adding the tomato paste, bacon, and salt to the pot, add 2 pounds small potatoes (about 12 walnut-sized), halved.

2) Adjust heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Return heat to medium-low, replace cover, and continue with the recipe as directed, stirring once or twice to make sure the potatoes are submerged.

3) At the end of the cooking time, 30 to 35 minutes longer, the potatoes should be tender; if they need more time, use a slotted spoon to remove the beans from the pan, adjust heat to medium-high, and cook, covered, for a few minutes longer.

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