While I continually waited for my mom to make the famous “French’s Green Bean Casserole” that was so popular in the 60s and 70s, I knew that string beans ( we never called them “green beans” in my household, growing up) with tomatoes and garlic, was about as good as it was ever going to get for me. I longed for the creaminess of that Cream of Mushroom Soup and the crunchiness of the French’s Fried Onion Rings in the can. But I knew this casserole was never coming to the dinner table as long as my mom was cooking, and my dad was sitting at the head of the table.
All this being said, my mom did make string beans a heck of a lot better than some of my friends’ moms did. There was nothing less appealing than these basically tasteless green morsels, dotted with butter. Thank goodness for the butter, but honestly, how boring can you get? This is the reason why kids hate vegetables…..boring! I must say that these “string” beans that my mom made had lots of flavor, and I have been able to tempt my children and grandchildren to eat their vegetables without having to add the extra trans fats and sodium from a canned soup or fried onions. My mom used to make her string beans using canned, peeled Italian tomatoes, of course, squished in her hands and sautéd in olive oil and sliced garlic. I do this in winter, but in summer, I love to use fresh, ripe cherry tomatoes. By now you know my addiction to these tomatoes, especially in the summertime, when they are locally farm grown. So this is just another way to use up the many pounds of cherry tomatoes that are in my kitchen all summer long. In the winter, I revert back to the canned Italian tomatoes, and it’s also just delicious, so I will give you the recipe for both styles. I hope you and your family enjoy them both.
2 pounds green beans
1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved …...or
2 cups Italian peeled plum tomatoes (San Marzano, please), drained and squished
6 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces……..if you have it on hand.
1. Trim ends of green beans and blanch in a large stock pot of well salted boiling water until bright green in color, but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain and shock in a bowl of ice water to stop them from continuing to cook.
2. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the garlic and sauté for about one minute. Add the tomatoes and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir well. Cover and cook for approximately 10 minutes.
3. Add the green beans to the cooked tomatoes. Stir well and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Adjust for seasonings. Add basil if you like.