I’m sure this dish will take you back, whether you make it with “Italian” string beans (those flat wide ones), regular string beans or the more expensive, thinner haricots verts. It isn’t necessary to start with a long simmered tomato sauce for these beans; in fact the flavor will be fresher with this quick-cooked marinara made right in the pan.
The acidity of the tomatoes will turn the string beans a sort of olive green. That doesn’t bother me at all—it reminds me of the way my grandmother cooked vegetables. Maybe they weren’t the brightest green vegetables I’ve ever seen, but they certainly were the most delicious.
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing the dish, if you like
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 pound flat “Italian” string beans, regular string beans, or haricots verts, ends trimmed
- crushed red pepper
- one 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano) with their liquid
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Whack the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and toss them into the pan. Cook, shaking the pan, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Scatter the string beans over the oil, season them lightly with salt and red pepper, and turn with tongs until they begin to wilt, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, crush the tomatoes coarsely with your hands. Add them to the string beans, cover the pan and cook until the beans are tender, about 10 minutes. Taste the beans and season with additional salt and red pepper if you like. Serve hot.