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Fasoulia b’Zeit

(Green Beans with Olive Oil)

Kifta bi-Tahini

By Hani Alfar

This traditional Middle Eastern dish is popular in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. Delicious and vegan, it is easy to make and loaded with flavors, especially in the summer, when you get fresh fasoulia from farmers markets. The flavors of fresh green beans, sautéed in olive oil, combined with caramelized onions, tomatoes, pomegranate molasses, and garlic take this dish to a heavenly level. Enjoy it by itself, with rice, pita or taboun bread, or even as part of an array of mezze.
In my family, this dish holds many beautiful memories! My mother is an expert at it, and I remember her making sandwiches for us to eat while we were playing outside with neighborhood kids in the late afternoons, when the temperatures started to cool down. I remember watching and helping her and enjoying it together as a family, eating directly from the pan so we would not miss one drop of its yumminess.

– 500 g fresh (or frozen) green beans, trimmed and cut into halves or quarters, then blanched
Extra virgin olive oil
– 2 tablespoons tomato puree
– 2 red onions, sliced
– 3 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into 6 wedges (peeled if you like)
– Pomegranate molasses to taste, 1 to 3 tablespoons
– Lemon juice to taste
– 1 hot chili pepper, sliced (or chili flakes)
– Salt and black pepper to taste
– 1/4 cup water or vegetable stock (or more if necessary)
– 8 garlic cloves, 4 sliced and 4 minced

– My mother’s secret was to prepare the beans by blanching them in boiling salt water with a bit of sugar, then she put them into ice water to stop the cooking process, which gives the beans a beautiful color and shortens the cooking time later on. This step can be skipped.
– Heat the olive oil in a pan, add 1 tablespoon of tomato puree, mix, and heat for 2 minutes.
– Add the sliced onions and sauté until they are soft, translucent, and fragrant.
– Add the sliced garlic and sauté for another minute.
– Add the green beans and fry them for a few minutes.
– Add the tomato wedges, pomegranate molasses, a drizzle of lemon juice, salt, ground black pepper, and chili slices.
– Top off with water or vegetable stock, just enough to give it some moisture (the tomatoes will produce some liquid as well) and to prevent it from sticking, cover, and let it simmer on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the beans are soft. (Adding water changes the process from frying to stewing, using both oil and water, which is healthier.)
– Add the minced garlic, then taste and fix the flavors (salt, black pepper, lemon, and pomegranate molasses).
-Drizzle more olive oil to taste over the finished dish.

This dish is usually served cold, but it also can be enjoyed hot with freshly baked taboun bread and/or rice.
Enjoy! I am looking forward to your reviews!
Chef Hani Alfar is a contributor to This Week in Palestine and on Instagram @tastesofpalestine, where you can see him in action, preparing this dish.

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