Once again I found myself with a bag of green beans in my fridge and while the initial plan was to make some Asian inspired side dish, I couldn’t resist the Mediterranean recipe in Cooks Illustrated. It sounded very similar to what my mom used to make and it indeed raised up to the expectations. This can be served as a dish on its own, but I decided to roast some chicken thighs while this was cooking and served it as a side dish.
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 4 bone-in chicken thighs
- olive oil, salt and pepper
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 lb green beans, trimmed and cut in 2-3″ pieces
- 1 Tb tomato paste
- 1 big heirloom tomato, chopped
Preheat oven to 400F. Rub chicken thighs with oil, salt and pepper. Roast chicken skin side up for 20-25 minutes or until the skin gets crispy then flip and cook for ~ 10 minutes, or until the juices run clear (a thermometer should read 165F – 170F).
Meanwhile, heat 2-3Tb of oil in a cast iron dutch oven (or a pan you can cover) over medium heat. Cook onion until translucent (~5 min), add garlic and cayenne and cook until fragrant (30 sec – 1min), followed by the water, baking soda and green beans. Bring pot to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Baking soda is helping the beans soften by increasing the pH (making the mixture more basic) and speeding up the break down of the pectin. The tomatoes are acidic so by adding the baking soda before the tomatoes and allowing the beans to soften, you decrease the overall cooking time. I love how Cooks Illustrated is using chemistry in cooking…of course I had to try this recipe
After the beans have been soften, add the tomato paste, the chopped tomato and season with salt and pepper.
Cover and simmer on the stove for 45 minutes or the Cooks Illustrated recommends transferring the pot to an oven preheated to 275F. My oven was taken by the chicken thighs so I opted to continue cooking the beans on the stove.
Serve warm on its own or as a side. This dish smelled delicious and it definitely reminded me of home