Lenten and oily foods outline a significant part of the Greek cuisine’s personality either because of their place on the table that is deeply associated with the Orthodox Christian religion or because they make use of a particular way of cooking the local ingredients which grow rich in our country. A great supporter of this view was Epicurus, aka Albert Aruch, an interventionist gastronomy thinker, a writer with a strong pen on kitchen issues and tasting and a restaurant critic, who died very recently (12/4). Despite the wealth of his written stated views concerning Greek cuisine, his departure signals a great loss for the culinary world, since the big chapter of “we are what we eat” do not come as a naive conclusion.
Fresh green beans are perhaps the first example of the “oily foods” category that pops up in mind and one of the Greek foods that is very welcome in the table regardless of the season. Even though, repetitive serving sometimes transforms familiar tastes into boring ones, it doesn’t take away from them the privilege to act as cultural intermediaries, making us more receptive to similar dishes offered by other cuisines. Under this rationale, fresh green beans with cumin and ginger (turmeric and coriander) that come all the way from India, with the spicy air of a distant East, that smells nothing but familiar, don’t travel all this way in vain.
Do try them as a vegetarian dish and don’t get bored to cut them uniformly as small as possible, with max. the 2-2.5 cm. long. During the Lenten season, they can be eaten on their own as a light meal or salad but they are more than suitable to accompany a good roast and especially lamb or goat as well.
Preparation: 20-30 minutes and approximately 20 minutes for the cooking. Quick and easy recipe.
Ingredients (serves 4)
500 g fresh green beans
1 white onion finely chopped
1 piece of ginger 2.5 cm. finely chopped
4-5 tbsps olive oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
2 tsps grated cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1-2 tbsps lemon
180 ml vegetable broth or water
4-5 tbsps chopped coriander or parsley
salt, freshly grated pepper
To prepare the green beans: Remove the fibers from the sides of the green beans as well as the hard tips and cut diagonally to a length of 2.5 m.
In a large, deep pan or saucepan and medium (to high) fire, heat the olive oil and add mustard seeds, cumin and ginger. Stir for approximately 30’’ and then add the onion. Sauté for a minute, put the cut green beans and stir a couple of times. Add broth or water, turmeric, lemon, salt and pepper.
Bring it to boil and then lower the fire, cover and slow cook for 10 minutes (green beans should be almost tender).
Add half the coriander or parsley, try and correct in salt. Stir carefully and leave it for 1-2 minutes for the aromas to blend. If it still holds plenty of fluids, continue to cook in high heat uncovered for 2 more minutes.
Το serve: Put the fresh green beans in a deep bowl with the rest of the coriander or parsley on top.