Green beans (in Greek “fasolakia prasina“) are the pods of unripe beans which are considered vegetables although technically are legumes. The pods of green beans are tender and the beans contained are tiny, so the pods prevail in quantity and taste. Green beans cooked in fresh tomato juice (what else!) together with potatoes is the most typical Cretan summery dish. Of course the dish contains generous amounts of extra virgin olive oil. There is no summer in Crete that does not involve regular (almost on a weekly basis!) eating of green beans. Green beans is a casual dish that is ideal for the high temperatures of the Cretan summer, as it is light and refreshing. This dish is one of the cornerstones of the extremely rich Cretan vegan cuisine. The health benefits of Cretan green beans and recipe are seen below.
Green beans are vegetables with low calorie content and high content of fiber (as expected) and protein as well as minerals, such as potassium (important for human cells), iron and zinc. They also contain significant amounts of folate and vitamin C, which boost the immune system. They also contain catechin antioxidants which are shown to act against cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In general, consuming green beans can help defend the vascular system, stabilize blood sugar levels and protect against infections. The dish receives an easy 3 out of 3 healthiness score (🥑🥑🥑).
The recipe below feeds approximately 5 people as main dish. Cooking time is around 30 mins and cleaning the fresh green beans requires another 30 mins, so the time score is 2 out of 3 (⌛⌛). Note that frozen green beans do not require cleaning, so the total required time is just that of cooking. The dish is tasty and really healthy but very common, justifying an overall score of 1 out of 3 (😋).
Green beans are easily found anywhere (usually frozen), so the ingredients score is 1 out of 3 (🔎). The ingredients are as follows:
- 750 gr of green beans (fresh or frozen)
- 1 big onion finely chopped
- 350 gr of fresh tomato juice (preferably) or passata
- 3 medium sized potatoes chopped into 4 parts each
- ~1 teaspoon of salt
- A bit of pepper (according to your wishes)
- Water (as much as needed)
- 1 teacup + 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (should be always added at the end)
In terms of preparation score, it receives 2 out of 3 (🍳🍳) as it requires close supervision. Follow the steps below:
- If the green beans are fresh, remove their edges using a knife.
- This step is not necessary if green beans are frozen, as they are usually sold clean.
- Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a pan to warm up.
- Add the chopped onion and leave it for 3 mins to brown a touch.
- Add the chopped potatoes and leave the mixture for another 3 mins.
- Add the green beans, tomato juice, salt and pepper.
- Add water to the pan while making sure it does half cover the mixture.
- Let the mixture simmer for about 20 mins without stirring until green beans and potatoes soften. The time depends on how quickly our particular green beans cook (frozen green beans cook faster).
- During this time we add just a bit of water to let the sauce thicken.
- Switch off the hob when the beans and potatoes are soften and the tomato sauce is thick (should not be watery).
- Add the olive oil and shake slightly the pan. Do not use a lapel for stirring as you can mash your beans which is undesirable.
- Cretan green beans are ready to be served!
It is important that olive oil is added at the end of the cooking for two reasons: (1) it retains its full taste and (2) it retains all its nutritional value, some of which is destroyed with cooking.
Cretan green beans are greatly accompanied with a mildly salty Feta cheese.
Cretan green beans require some bread to go with, preferably a healthy Cretan wholemeal bread. Follow this link (Cretan healthy bread with a breadmaker) to see our version of delicious Cretan wholemeal bread. If you prefer the traditional hand made bread version follow this link (handmade Cretan healthy bread).
Recipe last edited: 19/03/2019
© Recipe and photos by Agisilaos Papadogiannis