Stuffed tomatoes and peppers and Fassolakia Ladera are the principal Greek summer dishes. We buy fresh, tender green beans from the street markets and all members of the family help string and prepare them for cooking.
In most Greek kitchens a good vegetable knife is considered an unnecessary luxury, so preparing the beans is not easy—it is very hard to string green beans with an unsuitable knife. Nevertheless, many cooks make these beans at least once a week because everybody loves them.
Some cooks add zucchini to the pot to extend the dish with a vegetable that is much easier to prepare. You can also serve the green beans as an accompaniment to lamb, chicken, or veal in tomato sauce. Runner beans are best for this dish, but you can also use thin, young green beans. Needless to say, fresh beans taste much better and are usually more tender than frozen ones.
Serve this dish with fresh Country Bread and feta cheese.
Using a very sharp knife, trim the strings from both sides of the beans, then slice each bean in half lengthwise. You can also use a string-bean sheer.
Heat half the olive oil over medium heat in a large, shallow, non-reactive pan with a cover and sauté the onions until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the beans, parsley, and chili pepper, and mix well. Arrange the potatoes on top of the beans in one layer, season with salt, and pour the tomatoes and the rest of the olive oil over them.
Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked and most of the juices have been absorbed. Do not stir, but occasionally shake the pan a little to prevent sticking. Check the amount of liquid regularly and add a little water if needed. Remove the pan from the heat and let the beans cool for 15 minutes before serving.
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