Earlier last week, I reached out to my friends and family and asked for ideas on what to cook this past Sunday. I labored over my mama’s cookbook but nothing was jumping out at me. I received a few great suggestions, but all of them required a great deal of time and effort and I think I’m at a place with this project where I can’t seem to give it my all right now. I’m sure that will change soon enough, especially because the next couple of Sundays are going to be very personal, emotional weeks and I’m curious to see how the cooking goes with all that in mind.
So, I ended up making a dish that I absolutely love. It’s called Loubieh Siami and it’s basically a recipe for vegetarian green beans. I think I’ve had this dish a handful of times in my life and I guess that is in part to how hard it is to find the specific kind of beans my mama used to use for this dish. Now, there is another green bean stew of sorts called Fasoulia and this recipe is completely different in taste and texture. You also usually make that dish with meat.
Loubieh, on the other hand, is meant to be vegetarian and uses lots of oil, onion and is usually eaten on its own with bread vs. being served over rice. What I remember most about this dish is the beans that were used. I know the recipe calls for just a regular thin green bean (think haricot vert) , but my mama used to use this very specific bean that had such an incredible flavor profile. The strands of beans were really long – almost like a Chinese long bean and had very pronounced and robust seeds that burst at the seams after being cooked for awhile.
I have no idea what kind of bean they are though, so I ended up traveling from store to store before I ended up just purchasing a few bunches of the Chinese long bean to use. If anyone has any clue what kind of bean I’m talking about, I beg you to leave your suggestions in the comments below.
I seriously remember how excited my mom would get when she found these beans at the grocery store. I guess maybe her joy in cooking this dish is one of the reasons I have such fond memories of its taste and texture and I’d really like to get that feeling back – even for a moment.
Here’s the recipe I used:
1-1 1/2 lbs. green beans
1 medium to large onion, chopped somewhat finely
1/2-1/3 cup of olive oil
1 28. oz can of whole or diced tomatoes (if whole, dice them yourself)
1 – 1 1/2 cups of water
1/3 tsp. of allspice and cumin
3/4 tbs. of pepper
1/2 – 1 tbs. of salt
1 whole hot pepper
Wash and cut green beans into smaller pieces. Chop up the onion (size should depend on how much you prefer the taste) and saute in the oil until the onions are tender. Add the green beans and saute them for at least 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the water to the beans and then add the spices to taste. Let boil and then cook on medium heat for 30-45 minutes.
This dish shouldn’t have a great deal of residual soup to it. The beans and the tomatoes should thicken up quite a bit almost to the point where you can just scoop up a bit of the beans with some bread without the sogginess of the liquid.
Photos to come shortly!