Italian Flat Stringbeans with Zucchini and Tomato

As I indicated in my last post, my favorite meals for entertaining this time of year are those which consist of something from the grill, plus a variety of make-ahead side dishes.

My mother is visiting again this weekend, and has brought me a variety of stringbean that I can’t seem to find at my local farm stands–the flat stringbean, or Italian pole bean.  Someone has given these to her from their garden in New Jersey.  These beans require a longer cooking time than a conventional stringbeans, but are meatier, denser and more flavorful as well.

My mother usually dresses them with olive oil and red wine vinegar, but tonight, we’re sauteing them with zucchini and chopped fresh tomato.  A little bacon wouldn’t hurt, but tonight, I’m keeping the flavors clean and uncluttered.

Tonight, for our grilled dish, we’re having chickens (cut into pieces) freshly killed from our local chicken farm, North Sea Farms.   These chickens are a special treat and I make them for guests as often as I can.  The recipe for tonight’s chicken is exactly the same as last week’s chicken thighs–marinated with sage and lemon.

They are first seared over high flames, then moved to the cool side of the grill on indirect heat to roast, covered, for about an hour.  At the last minute, they’re moved back to the flame until the skin is crispy and slighty charred.

As a simple side dish, we’re having plain boiled quinoa with lots of pecorino, black pepper and olive oil.  The nuttiness of the grain is terrific with the salty flavor of the pecorino.  It’s a great side dish for grilled meats or poultry, and easier than potatoes!

Italian Flat Stringbeans with Zucchini and Tomato

serves 4

1 lb Italian stringbeans

1 medium red onion, cut in half and sliced lengthwise into 1/4″ slices

2 medium zucchini

2 plum tomatoes

4 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Remove both ends of the beans and, in the process, pull off any stringy connectors.  Boil in salted water for about 10 minutes or until crisp-tender.

In the same boiling water, blanch tomatoes for about 30 seconds.  Peel and dice.  Slice zucchini in half lengthwise, then into half-moon slices about 1/4″ thick.

In a broad skillet, heat oil and onions.  Saute onions for about 2 minutes on high heat.

Add zucchini and saute until golden.   Saute for another 3 or 4 minutes.

Add tomatoes and saute for another minute or two.

Add beans and toss to incorporate and reheat beans.

Can be served at room temperature.

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