Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fassolia yiahni

I made this dish twice in July, until I was sick of it. But man, was it ever good! Usually when I make fassolia yiahni (which we call "summer fassolada" in my family), it's vegetarian. This time I thought I'd experiment with adding some boneless, skinless chicken thighs to the mix...they really didn't add much, except a whole bunch of time wasted browning the meat. Chris thought I should add ground beef, but I feel like it would be similarly "meh". What makes this dish so amazing is the freshness of the veggies - it's not something I would ever make in the winter, with musty potatoes, bland zucchini and wrinkly, flavourless string beans. But in July, when everything is at its peak, this dish is sweet and juicy and amazing...

Ratios are up to you - I like a good mix, my mom adds extra potato because that's her favourite part. You would feel a bit ripped off if you didn't get at least a few pieces of potato in your serving, so don't skimp on them. Don't cut your zucchini/courgettes too small, as they will get mushy. I used baby zukes this time, so I cut them chunkier than I normally would; this saved them from disintegration, but also meant that they tasted very green and "strong" in the centre, where they had no contact with the tomato sauce...

So, there's no real "recipe" with precise measurements here...but you will want to have these things handy:

- fresh local green string beans - about a bag full, washed, trimmed, and snapped in half (or into thirds, if some beans are especially large)
- fresh local smallish zucchini (aka courgettes), cut into thickish slices
- fresh local white new potatoes, cut up into halves or quarters
- one onion, diced
- as much garlic as you'd like, at least two or three cloves, diced
- some sort of tomato: my mother uses the better part of a can of tomato paste + 2c. of water; I had canned San Marzano tomatoes, so I mashed them up and used that. You could probably use any canned product, or diced or grated fresh tomatoes.
- lots of Greek extra virgin olive oil - I use "Solon" brand.
- Greek sea salt
- fresh-ground black pepper
- oregano

Put your diced garlic and onion along with a generous amount of olive oil in your "soup pot" over medium heat - I used a stock pot, but it tends to get burnt on the bottom - use something with a nice heavy bottom. I usually coat the bottom of the pot with oil - amounts are up to you, but remember that olive oil isn't the enemy, and it will add to the texture and flavour of the final product. Saute the onions and garlic till soft. Add your green beans and stir until they are bright green. Add your tomatoes and potatoes, cooking for five minutes, before adding the zucchini (this helps prevent overcooking the zucchini). Season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Let boil on medium heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally (keep an eye on it, as it has a tendency to stick), or until potatoes are cooked. Taste for salt. Serve with nice crusty bread.

If you want to add chicken, like I did: trim and dice up some boneless, skinless chicken thighs and pan fry in batches in olive oil. Add to the pot along with the potatoes.

Kali orexi!
- Σ

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