Summer Bean Ragout from “The Vegetable Butcher” by Cara Mangini (Workman Publishing, 2016). LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM
Photo: Ligaya Figueras
Photo: Ligaya Figueras

Kitchen Curious: String beans star in early summer ragout

The coronavirus has prompted many of us to try our hand at vegetable gardening or to approach the outdoor hobby with increased fervor this season.

Green beans are among the early summer crops that have flourished in my garden, thanks to frequent rain, Georgia heat and daily weeding-as-therapy sessions. The purple string bean bounty has me sifting through vegetable-centric cookbooks for creative ways to manage this veggie of the moment.

Cara Mangini offers a handful of simple yet flavorful preparations for string beans in “The Vegetable Butcher” (Workman, 2016), including Summer Bean Ragout. The thick French stew traditionally holds meat, poultry or fish, and may or may not include vegetables. Mangini opts for a vegetarian mix of beans, thickened with fresh tomatoes and enlivened with garlic, jalapeno, fresh herbs and white wine. If it had eggplant, zucchini, onions and sweet peppers, we could slap a ratatouille label on it. If it had potatoes and feta crumbles, it’d be more like a Greek fasolakia.

Mangini’s recipe is flexible. You don’t need multiple varieties of string beans to make the dish, although it would be more colorful. I stuck with my windfall of purple beans (which turn green when cooked). Also, because the tomatoes get cooked down, this is an instance when subbing canned tomatoes for fresh ones is an equal exchange in my estimation.

She pairs Summer Bean Ragout with corn fritters. I can picture it working similarly well on black bean patties. I ladled it over rotini because that twisty pasta offers plenty of nooks and crannies for the stew to cling to. Rice or couscous would be a good carb complement, too. Serve it as a side with grilled chicken or just scoop it up with crusty bread. One vegetable, so many summer-perfect preparations — and we haven’t even talked about pickling yet!

The twisty pasta known as rotini goes well with Summer Bean Ragout from “The Vegetable Butcher” by Cara Mangini (Workman Publishing, 2016). LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LIGAYA.FIGUERAS@AJC.COM
Photo: Ligaya Figueras
Summer Bean Ragout
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded (ribs removed), and finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3/4 pound mixed string beans (yellow wax, green, purple, and Romano beans), cut on a diagonal into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 1/2 pounds Roma or plum tomatoes (about 6 medium tomatoes), stemmed, seeded, and coarsely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra as needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra as needed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Heat the olive oil in a deep saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until it just becomes fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds; do not let it brown. Add the jalapeno and tomato paste, stirring well to break up and incorporate the tomato paste. Turn the heat up to medium high, add the string beans, and cook, stirring to coat, for 1 minute.
  • Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes begin to melt, 2 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium low, add the thyme sprigs, and simmer until the beans are tender and the tomatoes have completely melted into a thick, chunky sauce (there should be no watery liquid remaining), 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. Stir in the butter, if using, and the basil. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and serve.Serves 4-5.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, based on 4, without optional unsalted butter: 149 calories (percent of calories from fat, 47), 3 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams total fat (1 gram saturated fat), no cholesterol, 307 milligrams sodium.

Excerpted from “The Vegetable Butcher” by Cara Mangini. Workman Publishing. Copyright 2016.

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