It's around 11:30, Thanksgiving eve, and I am taking some time off from cooking. Just enough time to write down the recipe for fasolakia. You see, I decided that there should be very little cooking left to do tomorrow, Thanksgiving day. This way I can mingle with family, and as most of the cooking will have all ready been done, Thanksgiving day will unfold smoother and less hurried for us all. I'm going for simple and delicious this year. Uncomplicated recipes, easy to make, tasty to eat. OK, now I have to trot into the kitchen, do one final thing (finish cooking the fasolakia), and then I'll be ready for tomorrow. Be right back.
This is a popular Greek recipe, most often enjoyed in the summer, when green beans come fresh from the farm. Our Thanksgiving dinner is comprised of all the traditional fare, but it also contains this recipe, to remind us of our roots! I make it with flat Italian green beans, which taste great and are similar to the varieties found in Greece. This time of year I buy the frozen kind, because these green beans are not found fresh in November.
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 pounds Italian green beans, frozen
1 large can San Marzano whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup chicken broth or water
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and saute until soft, but not burned. Half way through cooking the onions add the garlic. Add all of the other ingredients and mix well.
The liquid should almost cover the green beans. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover and cook for about one hour, until the green beans are soft and fork - tender.
If the liquid evaporates before cooking is finished, you will need to add just a little bit more to the pan. You can use broth or water. The end result should be to have the green beans look juicy but not floating in liquid. Serve them with the pan juices, and enjoy them. I'll be using this recipe as a side dish to feed a crowd, but you can cut it in half, which, minus the chicken broth will make enough to feed about four people as a vegetarian/vegan main meal.
I didn't make it back to my computer Thanksgiving eve, so this entry was left to be posted today, late at night, long after Thanksgiving was over. What can I say? The green beans came out really tasty. However, I can't write that all went well Thanksgiving day. My father, 86 years old and suffering from dementia, became suddenly ill (he is now better), and that sent the whole house into an uproar. So much for a smooth and unhurried Thanksgiving. It turned out to be stressful and sad. Over and over in my mind I think of the famous words the poet Robert Burns set down in 1785. How true they still ring today, in 2010:
"The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
Still you are blest, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!"
(from "To a Mouse," by Robert Burns, Standard English Translation).