In the first Spanish class I took in middle school, my teacher — Señora Volland, if anyone local is out there — asked us to bring in a traditional Spanish recipe to share at the end of the school year. Of course, being 13, I knew next to nothing about cooking . . . and though my passion for the practice has certainly increased over the years, I haven’t really mastered many recipes yet!
But the recipe I made more than 10 years ago has become a “classic” Megan recipe, and I make it for lots of family functions. If you’re like me not at all adept at chopping veggies quickly, this can be time consuming. I figured out a good cheat for one part of the dish, though — I buy the onions already chopped. Fresh green beans and tomatoes are a must, though. It’s a fun dish, best served hot but still yummy cold, and I whipped some up this past Easter! Thanks, Señora Volland, for giving me a relatively fool-proof side dish with which to impress friends and relatives — another win for public education!
Habas Verdes Con Salsa De Tomate
(Green Beans in Tomato Sauce)
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 lb. fresh green string beans, trimmed and cut into 2 in. lengths
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
• 1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
• 4 medium tomatoes, or 1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes
• 1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
• 2 tsp. sugar
• black pepper
In a 3 to 4 quart saucepan, bring the salt and 2 quarts of water to boil over high heat. Drop in the beans, a handful at a time. Bring to boil again, reduce the heat to moderate and boil uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, or until beans are slightly tender. Drain and set beans aside.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy 10 to 12 inch skillet until a light haze forms above. Add onions, garlic and stir frequently, cook over moderate heat 5 minutes, until onions are soft and transparent but NOT brown. Stir in tomatoes, parsley, sugar and a few grindings of pepper, bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid evaporates and the mixture is thick enough to hold its shape lightly in a spoon.
Stir in the beans and simmer for a minute or two until they are heated through. Taste for seasoning and serve at once.