Whether whores first invented puttanesca is no concern of mine. The sauce is bright, flavorful, pungent, and goes with just about anything you can scrounge together. Including the ubiquitous green bean.

Literally translated, alla puttanesca means “in the style of a prostitute.” It is a culinary legend whose origins (like so many inventions) are clouded with speculation. There are various stories elucidating its creation. One story describes how mid-century prostitutes prepared it quickly between customers. Another suggests that these same women used the sauce’s complex fragrance to lure the heartsick wanderer. However, food historians have come to favor its creation as simply a matter of happenstance. In a 2005 article from Il Golfo, Annarita Cuomo asserted that the sauce was invented by Sandro Petti late one evening as he slapped together a meal for some hungry night owls. It is a sauce so delicious that it deserves an aura of controversy.

The green bean, on the other hand, has become so popular and ever-present upon the American dinner table as to be nearly invisible. It seems to me a match made in heaven (or hell). Either way, the puttanesca sauce lends a bit of dramatics to the green bean. It dresses it up a bit, causes a stir, and makes it something worth talking about behind closed doors…


Many recipes nowadays favor the mouth-bursting, crispy crunch of the fresh young green bean. A stewed, or braised, green bean is something of antiquity, something our grandmothers probably used to cook. My grandmother, and my mother, did. String beans, as my family called them, always erred on the mushy side. They were delicious. Somewhere along the way, people decided to stop braising their beans, and merely warm them up in a steamer. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for green beans prepared aldente. But there is also a time and a place on the table for braised beans.

Braising a green bean allows the vegetable time to absorb a host of flavors from the additional ingredients and cooking liquid. One might braise a green bean (amongst other vegetables) in red wine and boullion, as the French are famous for doing. There are many different recipes for braised green beans. In the following recipe, Jack Bishop once again encourages us to think simply. He encourages us to think simply, but inspires us to cook flavorfully.

Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes, Olives, Capers, and Basil

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin Olive Oil
3 medium Garlic Cloves, minced
1 pound Green Beans, ends snapped off
4 canned Tomatoes, chopped, with enough packing juice added to equal 1 cup
8 large Black Olives, such as Kalamatas, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon drained Capers
1 tablespoon minced fresh Basil leaves
photo54
photo53
photo52
photo59
photo58
Salt
freshly ground Black Pepper

Instructions:

1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan.
photo57
Add the garlic and saute over medium heat until golden, about 1 minute.
photo56
Add the beans and stir to coat them well with oil and garlic.
photo55
2. Add the tomatoes, olives, and capers to the pan
photo50
and bring the liquid to a boil.
photo49
Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer, stirring two or three times, until the beans are tender but still offer some resistance to the bite, about 20 minutes.
photo48
3. Uncover and cook to evaporate any remaining tomato liquid, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the basil and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
photo47


 

Braised Green Beans with Tomatoes, Olives, Capers, and Basil
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Braised green beans slow-cooked in a flavorful puttanesca-like sauce.
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 medium Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound green beans, ends snapped off
  • 4 canned tomatoes, chopped, with enough packing juice added to equal 1 cup
  • 8 large Black Olives, such as Kalamatas, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon drained Capers
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh Basil leaves
  • Salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and saute over medium heat until golden, about 1 minute. Add the beans and stir to coat them well with the oil and garlic.
  2. Add the tomatoes, olives, and capers to the pan and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer, stirring two or three times, until the beans are tender but still offer some resistance to the bite, about 20 minutes.
  3. Uncover and cook to evaporate any remaining tomato liquid, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the basil and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.