French beans in a tomato & olive oil sauce
50ml olive oil
½ large onion, sliced
7 garlic cloves, sliced
1kg green or runner
beans, trimmed and
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
This typical Lebanese dish is, in my opinion, the best way of using up a home-grown glut of green beans or runner beans at the height of summer.
Mum used to cook it a lot and sometimes studded it with chunks of slow-cooked lamb. The sauce is made with fresh sun-ripened tomatoes and lots of garlic, softened first with onion in plenty of olive oil. This dish is best served warm or cold, so that the taste of the olive oil really comes through, along with the flavours of the other ingredients.
Start by preparing the tomatoes. Cut a cross in the top and bottom of each tomato and put them in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for 1½-2 minutes. Drain well and cool, then slip off and discard the skins. Chop the tomatoes and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion and garlic over a low-to-medium heat for 4-5 minutes until starting to colour. Stir the beans into the onion mixture, along with the water, then cover with a lid and continue to cook over a low heat for
5-8 minutes. It’s important to let the beans cook through at this stage; once you add the tomatoes they’ll take much longer.
When the beans are very tender, add the chopped fresh tomatoes, the tomato purée and seasoning. Stir well and cook for a further 10 minutes to allow the tomatoes to cook down and all the flavours to meld together.