An Armenian whose family moved to France to escape the Armenian genocide, my grandmother immigrated to the states when she was eighteen years old. While she was truly as American as apple pie, she constantly impressed me with her amazing and authentic Armenian food. She lived next door to her sister, and they would spend many days preparing all sorts of delicious foods that surprised and excited my eyes and taste buds. I wish I had developed my cooking bug earlier on in life and recorded all of her amazing recipes while she was with us, but here I am today trying to recreate food just the way she did.
Every February of my childhood, my parents and I would make our yearly pilgrimage to Florida to see her and my grandfather. My father prided himself on being able to make the car drive from Long Island to Florida with little to no stopping in between, so it was an understatement to say we were all tired when we arrived at my grandparents’ little home. We would enter their home and be welcomed with aromas of garlic, tomatoes, and all sorts of fresh herbs. One of her best dishes was a stewed green bean dish served over buttery rice pilaf. When she created this dish during our visit, she’d occupy me by snapping the tops off of green beans, which I think helped contribute to my love for food and cooking.
It’s a great idea to make this dish in the summer when green beans and tomatoes are in season. Green beans are great sources of Vitamin C and fiber, and a good option for a low carb vegetable. Look for green beans that are bright green and crisp when you snap them. Use whatever tomatoes you can find or grow locally, and feel free to use homemade crushed tomatoes for this dish. This dish is excellent hot, or cold, and is even better the next day.
Tomato Stewed Green Beans over Rice Pilaf
For the Green Beans:
- 1 small Red Onion
- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 1.5 lbs. Green Beans
- 2 large Tomatoes
- 1 cup Crushed Tomatoes
- ½ cup Water, Vegetable Broth or Chicken Broth
- Juice from 2 Lemons
- ¼ tsp. Cumin
- ½ tsp. Coriander
- 1.5 tsp. Salt (or more to taste)
- Handful of Parsley, chopped
For the Pilaf:
- 1 cup White Jasmine Rice
- ½ small Onion, minced
- 2 Tbsp. Butter
- 1.5 cups Water or Chicken Broth
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pot over medium heat. Chop the red onion and add to the pot, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and soft. While the onion is cooking, snap or cut the ends off of the green beans and mince the garlic. Add the minced garlic to the pot and stir for just a minute, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned.
Next add the green beans and allow to cook in the pot for 1-2 minutes, until the green beans are coated with the olive oil mixture. Chop the tomatoes and add them to the pot along with the crushed tomatoes, water or broth, lemon juice, cumin, coriander and salt. Mix everything together in the pot so that the cooking liquid covers or nearly covers the green beans. Reduce the heat on the stovetop to medium low, cover the pot, and allow to cook for about 15-20 minutes. After this time, remove the lid and toss the green beans with tongs to mix everything together. Continue to cook the green beans uncovered for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid the green beans are cooking in reduces and thickens. Taste the green beans and add additional salt to taste. Remove the pot from the heat and mix in the chopped parsley.
To make the pilaf, add the butter and chopped onion to a pot over medium heat. Once the onion is soft and translucent, add the rice and stir to coat it in the butter. Allow the rice to toast in the pot for about a minute, but continue mixing occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn. Add the liquid to the pot and once the liquid begins to bubble, reduce the heat and cover the post for about 12-15 minutes. Once all of the liquid is absorbed and rice is flurry, remove the pot from the heat and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before removing the lid. Serve the green beans over the rice pilaf.