There is a subset of society that truly loathes green beans, and I can understand why. Whether their exposure to mushy tasteless green beans came from a can, or they bit into tough and stringy beans the consistency of hay, I truly feel their pain. But you can enjoy this vegetable without an ounce of suffering!
Take advantage of the vitamins C, K, antioxidants and fresh flavor in green beans and savor every bite, by shopping smart. The secret to success begins in the farmer’s market or supermarket where you purchase the beans in the first place. When searching for the perfect green beans you want to make sure they:
- Snap instead of bend- this signals freshness
- Are green with no discoloration or blemishes
- Are on the smaller side because the larger they are, the tougher they will be
- Don’t be afraid to try them raw for sweetness ( yes in the store, do it in stealth mode if you have to)
Now that you have snappy and sweet green beans, it’s time to tell you about Loubia, a signature dish of green beans and tomatoes popular among Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese–pretty much everyone that lives in the Levant. This is the perfect dish for this time of year where both ingredients are in peak season!
The tomatoes are sauteed with onions and green beans to bring out their sweetness, almost like a tomato jam. In the middle east we enjoy this dish even cold right out of the refrigerator, with a side of eggs for breakfast. We also enjoy loubia tucked inside pita bread, or as a warm side dish for lunch or dinner. Dishes like loubia are the quintessential hallmark of the Mediterranean diet, where local vegetables really shine with the addition of fruity olive oil.
In my latest video, I not only share the recipe, but some useful food hacks to extend your produce and why I peel tomatoes to reduce lectins, or anti-nutrients, in the tomatoes. In my version of this recipe, I want the produce to shine, so I season the vegetables simply with salt and pepper. If you are more adventurous, feel free to add a dash of cumin, coriander, allspice, or even cardamom to experiment.
- 1 pound tomatoes (any kind)
- 1/2 pound green beans
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (add more if you like)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional coriander, cumin, allspice, or cardamom
- Optional toasted pine nuts for garnish
- To peel the tomatoes, place them in a pot of hot boiling water for 1 minute. Drain the tomatoes and run cold water over them, then peel. In a skillet, saute the onions in 1 tbsp olive oil, until soft and semi-translucent. Add the garlic and saute one minute more. Add the peeled tomatoes and green beans, salt and pepper to taste, and 2 tbsp of tomato paste. Saute, then simmer for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the level of tenderness you prefer) . If the mixture starts to dry out, add boiling water in ½ cup increments. Serve hot or cold. Add toasted pine nuts if desired.