fasoolia – green beans with tomato sauce

This is a very simple and traditional Palestinian stew made with green beans and fresh tomatoes. Fasoolia is the word for ‘bean’ in Arabic (and i have discovered many other languages!) This is the vegetarian / vegan version. Very easy to make, delicious served hot with rice or cold with some bread and other mezze’s. The key here is a flavourful extra virgin olive oil, good quality fresh beans and a long slow braise in the tomato sauce.¬†

Time – 1 hour 30 minutes

Serves 4


Green beans – runner or french beans cut into bite size pieces

6 large ripe tomatoes or 500 g passata (sieved tomatoes) or 1 can chopped tomatoes.

1 – 2 cloves finely chopped garlic

1 white onion finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tsp all spice

1/2 tsp cinammon

2 tsp salt

100-150 ml extra virgin olive oil

500 ml water

Gently heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish and add the garlic to the oil. Add the onion, bay leaf and spices here too and cook gently on a low heat until the onion is translucent. Add the green beans and let them stew in the oil for a few minutes with the lid on the pot. Keep the heat really low.

If you are using fresh tomatoes (which should only be in summer…no watery winter tomatoes!) roughly grate them and discard the skins. Add the tomatoes or passata (I prefer this to canned plum or chopped tomatoes as it makes for a smoother sauce). Combine everything very well and raise the heat to medium. Let the tomatoes cook with the other ingredients for another few minutes until simmering. Add the water, 2 tsp of salt and then put the lid back on and turn heat back to a low heat for at least an hour.

The beans should be soft, not al dente! This does go against all my instincts regarding green vegetable consumption, but it just doesn’t taste right with crunchy beans. They should be soft and silky. Check there is another water during the cooking and if it starts to look dry add more.

The sauce should be glossy at this point. If it is too thick add some more water and if too thin, simmer with the lid off so that some of the water can evaporate. Check for salt and add a pinch at a time and stir.

Serve with rice or bread (or both) and tahini salad. If serving cold as part of a mezze; drizzle a little oil on top before serving.

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