Monday, 20 September 2010
The 'a la grecque' obviously indicates vegetables slowly stewed in tomato and olive oil, and this is indeed a perfectly symmetrical cross between my mother's way of stewing fresh beans in tomato, and a nearly classic pasta e fagioli (φασολι)
use fresh borlotti (χανδρες) podded, or beans, unpodded.
* A relatively novel way of using onions in a tomato sauce, which again hails to Mother, is to add half the onion later, after the first half (shallots in this case) was sauteed, which brings a far deeper richer and more raw onionness to the dish.
The crushed tinned borlotti are used as a thickener, and to add some more beany meatiness to the dish. Much in the way half of the borlotti's are crushed in a typical pasta e fagioli, but again, greeks go that extra mile, stewing it it all much longer, and softly.
I am pretty sure this would also marry well with fat egg pappardelle, or lasagne sheets broken in squares, though i havent tried it yet.
Time; 1 hour and a bit.
You ll need ;
-2 banana shallots, (or one pink or white onion) finely chopped.
-1/4 white or pink onion, very finely chopped, or grated on a grater.
-2-3 plum canned tomatoes
-3 tbsp tomato puree
-two handfulls of either podded fresh borlotti beans, or un-podded but trimmed chunky green beans, purple beans or what have you fresh
(about a bowl and a half's worth un-podded)
-red pepper flakes, a pinch
-Pennette, or penne if you cant find pennette
-1/2 cup canned borlotti beans, mashed (by hand or machine, just squeeze them with your fingers).
Start by gently heating the shallots in a healthy bit of oil, with the garlic just roughly crushed for a couple of minutes.
Then add the tomatoes ; squeeze out the pips with a sieve underneath, and crush them in your hand; then put in the pan, to cook with the onions, covered for the 1st 5 minutes on low heat.
Add the bay leaf, and red pepper flakes, and the beans. Add a cup of water or enough to cover the beans, and the finely chopped raw onion.
add salt generously, cover, bring to boil and lower heat once in full boil, to your lowest simmering setting.
Now take the lid off, and leave it ajar, not covered, not open. Simmer gently.
Leave, checking and stirring to make sure nothing is charring, for at least 30 minutes. If you re using fresh borlotti simmer at least an hour. Top up with water when dry.
Meanwhile ; Cook the pennette for 2 minutes less than the packet's cooking time. Drain and shock in cold water, drizzle some oil & stir, keep it till sauce is ready.
As around an hour has gone by, the sauce should be thickening - Add the mashed borlotti's and stir.
Add water from the pasta pot if needed, it should be a thick but generously moist sauce.
Add the pasta and cook for a couple of minutes, adding water when dry, until pasta is al dente - 1-3 minutes.
Add a drizzle of olive oil and some pecorino romano, and serve immediately. Best eaten once its not too hot and the flavours are settling.
And dont be embarassed to dip a slice of bread in the juices, its practically impossible to resist.