Purple String Beans
& their Tomato Sauce
Long Summer days and the heat they bring on just scream for simple recipes that won’t have you slaving in the kitchen for hours; even more so when you’re 9 months pregnant, like me. And to be honest, it’s getting progressively difficult to find the balance between my waddle and shortness of breath and the process of cooking and documenting at the same time. However, I can’t really bring myself to taking a break when produce this time of year is so abundant and great, it just seems like such a pity not to take advantage of it.
The greatness of this otherwise simple recipe lies not in the preparation steps, but more in the quality of the raw ingredients. I was lucky enough to get my hands on local organic heirloom tomatoes, the earthiest purple string beans and the most flavoursome basil and parsley. This recipe will work just as well with green string beans, just lower the cooking time, as they’re less firm and you still want to have a nice crunchy bite after they’ve cooked, instead of a mushiness. The tomato sauce requires the most time, but it’s the kind of sauce you can leave simmering on low heat on the stove and come back to check it maybe once every 15 minutes and give it a stir. For the sauce to be truly great, I really recommend breaking the tomatoes apart with your bare hands and doing your best to squeeze all of their juices in the pan. The end result is a rustic and chunkier sauce that is simply delicious. And since we now know that by cooking tomatoes, we are actually increasing the lycopene content, which is a powerful antioxidant, this sauce is truly a win-win (more on this study here).
Purple String Beans with Tomato Sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 kg/2 lb. heirloom tomatoes
One small red onion, finely sliced
A small bunch of basil leaves
A small bunch of parsley leaves
Sea or Himalayan Salt, to taste
500g/1 lb. purple or green string beans, washed and ends sliced off
A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
Fleurs de sel or sea salt and pepper, to taste
In a large saucepan, heat the two Tbsp olive oil along with the garlic cloves. Once hot, remove from the heat and start ripping the tomatoes apart over the saucepan to catch all of the juice. Discard as much as you can of the skins and remove the cores by hand. Place saucepan on low heat and slightly break up tomatoes. Leave to cook as undisturbed as you can, for about half an hour, until you notice the sauce has somewhat reduced. Add the sliced onion and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until softened. Add the basil and parsley leaves and cook for another minute or so, until leaves are wilted. Add a little salt, to taste, then remove to a serving dish.
While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When water is boiling, place the beans in the pot and cook for 7 minutes (less if using green), they will turn a dark green. Remove to a bowl with ice water and allow to cool, before removing with a colander and placing on a serving dish. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and season with fleurs de sel or salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!