Monday, August 5, 2013

One Great . . . roasted broad beans

Every summer, I watch for those flat, meaty green beans that are sometimes called Roma beans and sometimes called broad beans. But you rarely see recipes for using them. Late last summer, I saw one in Gravy, the newsletter of the Southern Foodways Alliance, for a roasted version from Sheila and Matt Neal of Neal's Deli in Carrboro.

Since Matt is the son of the late Bill Neal, I figured the boy had been raised to cook some good pole beans. It was too late in the summer to use the recipe last year, so I set aside and waited. And waited. And waited: This summer's rains played havoc with all kinds of produce, even cutting into the usual plethora of green bean varieties.

I never have spotted Roma beans this year, but I finally happened on some thick string beans that I knew would work. For this treatment, you need something solid and meaty -- green beans at least as thick as a finger. Those are the kinds of beans that will be tough unless you take a little extra time. This method is perfect, and you can cook a mess of them to eat for several days.

Slow-Roasted Big Green Beans

From Matt and Sheila Neal in Gravy, from the Southern Foodways Alliance.

1 to 1 1/2 pounds thick green beans, preferably Roma, flat or broad beans
1/4 cup peeled, sliced garlic
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 medium-size tomato
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkling of red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil

STEM the green beans and pull off the strings. Place in a roasting pan with the garlic and onion. Cut the tomato in half and squeeze lightly to remove most of the seeds. With a wide grater, grate the tomato over the green beans until you get down to the skin. Sprinkle with the sugar, pepper, pepper flakes and salt. Add the water and oil.

PLACE a sheet of parchment directly on the green beans, then cover the roasting pan tightly with foil or a lid. Roast at 350 degrees for about 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until beans are tender.

YIELD: About 6 servings.

NOTE: For more on Gravy and SFA, go to