Tuesday, August 21, 2012

not your typical green beans... and a recipe for loubie bzeit

I know it must seem like I don't eat anything else but shortbread, ice cream, and cake, but I do eat real food. I mean non-dessert food. I promise. If in doubt, check out my food page here, and you'll see some variety in what I eat, beyond dessert.

Recently we got these beautiful dragon's tongue beans in our weekly produce bag from Fresh Fork Market.

Aren't they pretty? I love the purple striations against yellow. I've never cooked or tasted these before, so I was really excited thinking about what to make with them.

Unfortunately, after some reading on the Internet I found out that the purple striations disappear after cooking. Sad! Just like how the striations in Chioggia beets disappear after cooking as well.

At any rate, I suddenly thought of the Lebanese dish called Loubie Bzeit - a slow-cooked green bean stew with tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato and spices. 

We also had these gorgeous tomatoes, which I thought would be perfect for this dish. I know - sometimes I think it's a crime to cook summer tomatoes, when they are at their juiciest and sweetest state best enjoyed as is, sprinkled with a little sea salt to bring out their sweetness, or in a caprese salad with basil and creamy, fresh mozzarella or the even more indulgent burrata.

However, A. also recently started requesting heartier "cooked" meals besides the light/raw summer salads I've been preparing. And you know me - when I get a culinary request, I deliver. Except when he almost threatened (in a good way) to enter me into the Food Network's Chopped. Highly unlikely as I don't have a single competitive bone in my body. And, forget about competing, I might just (shamelessly) join the judges at the judges' table and sample all the delicious meals cooked that day.

Anyway, I digress, as always... the stories just somehow sneak their way into my recipe writing.

So here's the recipe. I don't know if it's perfectly authentic...lest I offend any Lebanese cooks out there. Let's just say it's my version. Feel free to play around with the measurements; the spice measurements are only approximations as I didn't measure precisely. When in doubt, start with a small amount; you can always add more later.

Loubie Bzeit

  • 1 lb green beans or, in my case, dragon's tongue beans, washed, trimmed, and sliced into 1-inch pieces (no need to be too precise here)
  • olive oil - a generous glug, enough to cover the bottom of the pan
  • half a large onion, chopped
  • ground cinnamon - about 1/4 teaspoon
  • ground allspice - about 1/2 teaspoon
  • ground cumin - about a 1/4 teaspoon
  • half a head of garlic, peeled and cloves left whole, or cut in halves if they are large cloves (I know it sounds like a lot of garlic, but I promise this makes it so good)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • a pinch of sugar

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet, over medium heat. Saute the onion with a little salt and pepper (season as you go!) until soft. Add the cinnamon, allspice, and cumin; saute to bring out the flavors, but be sure to keep scraping the bottom so the spices don't burn or stick. Add the tomatoes (and any tomato juice that collects on your cutting board) and the garlic, and let cook until the tomatoes break down somewhat and the garlic infuses the tomatoes. Add the beans, season again with a little salt and pepper as well as a pinch of sugar, then add about 1/4 cup of water to help soften the beans. Cover the pan, then once the sauce is bubbling lower the heat to let it cook gently.

Unfortunately I didn't time how long this took - I would say at least 15 minutes after the beans are in, but possibly more (I should be better at noting these things down!). The beans should be very soft, but not mushy, and the sauce should have thickened (but it shouldn't be too saucy). If the liquid is too thin or watery, let it simmer uncovered to reduce the liquid. The garlic should be soft as well. Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.

Serve with steamed basmati rice or crusty bread for mopping up the delicious sauce. The beans were soft and sweet, but not overly so; the tomato flavor made more complex by the spices.

As A. is my daily food critic, I always ask: "Do you like it enough for me to make it again?" To that he mumbled, yes, in between mouthfuls.

I had the leftovers for lunch today, and discovered it's good even when cold or at room temperature as well.




Pin It!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...