Tomatoes are an excellent source of antioxidants including vitamins A and C, lutein, and lycopene. The carotenoid lutein, which is found in abundance in tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, and egg yolks, may help promote cognitive function and prevent age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and breast cancer.
This recipe for spicy Slow-Cooked Flat Beans with Tomato, Pancetta, and Chile was sent to CCSA as part of a series of emails from our resident chef, Dr. Linda Doody. She has been sharing her extensive collection of favorite recipes with friends, family, and the CCSA team as a means of maintaining connection during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cooking demands attention, patience, and above all, a respect for the gifts of the earth. It is a form of worship, a way of giving thanks.”
– Judith B. Jones
Slow-Cooked Flat Beans with Tomato, Pancetta, and Chile
- 1 small white onion, sliced
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 dried red chile (A fresh spicy red chile [e.g., serrano] can be substituted. Mince the chile before adding)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1¾ oz (50 g) diced pancetta or guanciale
- 1 lb 1½ oz (500 g) flat beans, topped, tailed, and cut into 4-inch (10-cm) lengths (Romano beans [aka Italian flat beans] are flat, about 1 inch wide, and around 4 to 6 inches long. They are in the same family as garden variety string beans, French haricots verts, and yellow wax beans. The flavor of Romano beans is reminiscent of other green beans, but more meaty and a touch sweeter)
- 1 lb 1½ oz (500 g) canned or fresh chopped tomatoes (Fresh backyard or farmer’s market tomatoes are best. They should be peeled and seeded)
- Sea salt
- Fresh basil leaves (Cut the basil into a chiffonade [French for slicing into ribbons] just before serving. To do this, stack the leaves on top of each other, gently roll them into a cigar, and then use a sharp knife to slice across the leaves into thin ribbons)
- In a frying pan over medium heat, cook the onions in the olive oil with the chile and bay leaf. Add the pancetta or guanciale and cook until just turning golden.
- Add the beans and stir to coat in the oil. Add the tomatoes and bring to a low simmer. Cook for 30 40 minutes, or until the beans are soft and the tomatoes have formed a rich sauce. Season and serve, scattered with basil leaf chiffonade.
Romano beans are available in the summer and fall. They can be eaten raw or quickly blanched, but they taste best when braised slowly as in this recipe.