One-Pot Wonders

Carmen's Green Beans Catalán

November 15, 2012
1 Ratings
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

Carmen, my second mom who lives in a town west of Barcelona, has a few rules about cooking. #1: Spanish ingredients are best; Catalán ingredients are even better. #2: There is no such thing as too much olive oil -- so long as it's Spanish (see #1). #3: Cook with love (always). As someone on the receiving end of her simple, homey cooking, I can fully attest to the effectiveness of these rules. Here is a version of her recipe for green beans and tomatoes, one of the dishes I always hope she'll have on the table when I'm there for lunch. One of the secrets to this dish is generous amounts of olive oil, so when you think there is a "reasonable" amount, add a little more. The other secret, which is counter-intuitive to me, is to cook the beans very well. You don't want bright green, al dente beans; they should be dulled in color and fork-tender, and if they wander into the soft category, even better. In Spain, I find ground laurel easily in the markets. It's very finely ground bay leaf, and contrary to all the rules about not buying ground herbs, this stuff adds an amazing flavor to this dish. In California, I've found it in Mexican and Latin American markets in the spice section where it's called "laurel molido," but if you can't find it, a big bay leaf will do. In either case, what you'll get is a flavorful sauce that you'll want to sop up every bit of. As they say in Catalonia, Bon Profit! —vvvanessa

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe fed one of my favorite guilty pleasures: fully cooked vegetables. No toothsome green beans here, they were perfectly al dente after their half hour tomato bath. I did add a couple splashes of water as it simmered since the bread seemed to invite the sauce to stick to the bottom of the pan.The bread played a wonderful part in the recipe though -- it married the flavors of the garlic, tomatoes and olive oil to perfectly complement the green beans. The beans performed as the main attraction with a meal of wine-and-garlic sautéed chicken and white rice. Olé! —Avalon Fiesta

What You'll Need
  • Olive oil, preferably Spanish
  • 4 1/2-inch slices day-old baguette (Carmen would say sweet, but I won't tell her if you use sour.)
  • 1/4 cup shredded or finely chopped day-old baguette
  • 1 pound green beans such as Blue Lake or Romano, trimmed
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoons ground laurel or 1 large bay leaf
  • 3 cups (or 1 28-ounce can) diced tomatoes with juice and seeds
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large skillet, pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan (probably about 2-3 tablespoons). Brown the slices of baguette well on both sides over medium heat, taking care not to let oil burn. Remove the bread to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add in another glug of olive oil and sauté the breadcrumbs until golden (they can go from golden to overdone quite quickly). Remove them to a dish and set aside.
  3. Add in a little more olive oil. Add in the beans and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until the garlic begins to toast a bit, taking care not to let it burn. Remove the green beans to a plate.
  4. Carefully pour the tomatoes into the pan, stirring in the laurel or bay leaf. Nestle the slices of toasted bread in the tomatoes. Bring the mix to a boil, then immediately to a simmer. Cook the bread for 5-8 minutes, flipping it over a few times, until it is completely saturated and begins to fall apart. Break up the bread with a wooden spoon until there are no more discernible pieces left. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the green beans back in. Cover the pan and let the beans simmer until quite tender, verging on soft, about 20-30 minutes. Check the beans occasionally to make sure they aren't sticking to the pan, and add a little water in as necessary if the tomatoes are drying up.
  6. If there is a bay leaf, remove and discard it.
  7. Serve the beans wtih and drizzle of olive oil and the toasted breadcrumbs on top.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • lapadia
  • bonbonmarie
  • Adelucchi
  • srcerer
  • Avalon Fiesta
    Avalon Fiesta

10 Reviews

lapadia December 29, 2013
Love! Don't know why I didn't mention this earlier! :)
bonbonmarie December 26, 2013
Tasty looking recipe! I make a Spanish green bean with tomato too, but look forward to trying this--I love the addition of the bread and ground bay leaf. By the way, my father is from a town west of Barcelona too--Rajadell, and I still have family near there.
Adelucchi August 24, 2013
Thanks for sharing this recipe. Fresh picked green beans from a friend's garden sent me on a search for a recipe. There were heirloom tomatoes in my CSA box so I was all set! A few tweaks: traded trader Joe 's whole wheat sour dough for the baguette; added a teaspoon of herbs de Provence and a pinch of red pepper along with a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Took the dish to a dinner party to rave reviews! The hostess kept the small amount of leftovers! Luckily I have more beans to make this weekend. Thanks!
vvvanessa August 24, 2013
Thanks for the feedback, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe! I'm sure the herbes de provence were great, and little Worcestershire makes everything tastier.
srcerer July 5, 2013
Thanks for sharing this with us today! It is incredibly tasty and very comforting.
vvvanessa July 6, 2013
I'm glad you liked it. I'm still riding the high of having two cakes for lunch!
Avalon F. November 27, 2012
These green beans were muy delicioso! The bread in the tomato sauce muted and melded the flavors so they complimented the beans perfectly. I was able to find Spanish olive oil at the supermarket and was surprised at its floral flavor. It was a nice discovery.
vvvanessa November 27, 2012
Thank you! I'm really happy that you enjoyed it. I can't wait to tell Carmen!
hardlikearmour November 18, 2012
Yum! This sounds really delicious, and I look forward to making it.
vvvanessa November 27, 2012
I can't wait to hear how it goes!