Sunday, 15 November 2015

Steaming the Red, White & Green

Fagiolini Piattoni Verdi Stufati con Patate, Peperoni, Pomodorini & Timo
Runner Beans Stewed with Potatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Peppers & Thyme

Nothing exciting going on in this dish... or is there? And more's to the point- does food always have to be super- extravagant and rich to be delicious? 

I would say no to the second- and yes to the first in this case! Possibly because the ingredients here are so simple and the preparation equally so- the result is indeed something you could get a little excited about!

This is hardly something new and quite the classic Italian side-dish, but it can even be a meal in itself if you want to keep things light- which is what I did this evening. But by making it nice and flavorful, this made for a very satisfying preparation that made simple potatoes and fresh beans into something special.

This is another of those dishes that can easily be made by "rule of thumb"- meaning, you don't need a strict recipe, just a list of ingredients and a basic cooking method.

This evening I used just 2 handfuls of runner beans, 5-6 small potatoes, 1 onion, 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, 2 relatively mild green peppers, fresh parsley and thyme and simply salt, pepper and olive oil. 

This amount would be perfect for 3-4 side servings, or for one huge feast for me! Hehe! Well, it wasn't THAT much, actually! But it WAS a treat!

The way my mother would have made this, or many anItalian housewife- or most other people for that matter- would have been to boil the vegetables to death and then dress them up with olive oil at the end. And amazingly... they still taste good done that way! Haha! 

But you know me- I like to do things my way... and my way is probably easier and possibly a little better- you will have too try it out for yourselves to decide!

I began by slicing the potatoes- these smaller ones I cut simply into 4 slices, I trimmed the ends from the beans, sliced up the onion, halved the cherry tomatoes and seeded and chopped the peppers into relatively small pieces. So, yes- a bit of chopping. And then I simply layered them up in my pot- I used a tajine to cook mine in, but a regular saucepan will do.

I first poured a little olive oil into the tajine and then spread out the vegetables and sprinkled them with salt, pepper, chopped parsley and plucked thyme. And this was the only reason for building the ingredients up in 2 layer- just in order to get them seasoned evenly. After a light drizzle of olive oil, I added a second layer of ingredients.

I turned up the heat and once I could hear the oil at the bottom of the tajine sizzling, I added just a cupful of water and put on the lid. 

I let everything steam away for 5 minutes on a moderate heat and resisted the temptation of taking a look... that steam needs to build up and to do it's work in there! And as long as you have a saucepan with a lid, as I said, it will work equally well.

After 5 minutes, I gave everything a careful stir-around, and made sure to push the potatoes down closer to the bottom, where the juices had built up more during steaming, to be sure they cooked a little better- the beans, tomatoes and onion are of course much less of a problem.

But actually- none of this is a problem at all... all you need to do is put the lid back on, give it 10-15 minutes more time... and there you have it! Lovely, tasty vegetables, basically cooked in their own juices, with all of that herb flavor- and with all of it trapped right in that pot and none being poured away... delicious and so healthy!

Serve with a few more fresh herbs on top and enjoy just as it is!

You will be surprised at how much difference that thyme and the peppers make- they bring everything to life wonderfully... but if you want to give it a little extra hit of flavor, a squeeze of lemon juice or a drizzle of white wine vinegar would be lovely with this for sure!

Simply beautiful!

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