I came up in the kitchen ranks when The French Laundry Cookbook was the final word among line cooks on how to do things right. “Big-pot blanching,” i.e., cooking a small quantity of green vegetables in the biggest pot of boiling water you could find, was how you cooked green vegetables. If that’s how they did it at the Laundry, we all wanted to do it that way, too.
It was many years later when I learned how flavorful green vegetables can be when they are slow cooked to the point where they turn army green. This is especially the case with romano beans, which taste much richer when braised in a simple tomato sauce. The first time I saw the beans cooked this way, I was sure that the cook had no idea what she was doing. How arrogant of me: it turned out that she knew far more than me that this was a much better way to cook the beans.
The quantities in this recipe aren’t as important as the method. Basically, you want enough tomato sauce to coat the romano beans, since it will continue to reduce in the oven. But more olive oil and garlic are welcome additions for added richness.
Braised Romano Beans
- 10 ounces / 285 grams romano beans, trimmed
- 9 ounces / 255 grams fresh tomatoes, cored and chopped
- ⅛ cup (or so) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
- Pinch of dried chile flakes
- Basil leaves
- Parmesan cheese, for grating (optional)
Preheat an oven to 350F. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the romano beans until almost tender, about 3 minutes. Drain the beans and transfer to a 6 by 10-inch baking pan or similar-sized oven-ready vessel.
Fit a food mill with the medium disk and place over a pot. Run the tomatoes through the food mill. (The mill will catch most of the skins and seeds.) You will have about 1 cup of tomato sauce. Pour in the olive oil and add the garlic, salt, and chile flakes. Put the pot over medium heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add the basil and pour over the romano beans.
Put the pan in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the beans are tender and coated with the tomato sauce. Serve with a grating of Parmesan.