kapusta I was already planning on bringing. We are already out of the kraut I fermented myself earlier in the season, so I picked up a gallon of kraut at Copernicus Deli in Ann Arbor, our very own Polish food emporium. I also got some beet horseradish to go along with the kielbasa. But I was stumped about what to make for my vegetable....as much as I love the Campbell's Soup green bean casserole, I had just had it the other day at my sister in law's house and I didn't have a can of the Durkee Fried Onions laying about in the pantry, which are critical. I looked in my veggie drawer and all I had languishing in there was carrots, celery and some mixes salad greens. I didn't want to go to the store....what to make?
Looking again at the pantry, I saw tons of canned green beans and canned tomatoes. True confession time: I love the taste of canned green beans....frozen green beans are like cardboard, and I like to buy my produce seasonally, if possible. So unless it is summertime, we eat canned green beans. There. I said it. Hopefully no one takes away my food snob credentials. There's something homey about canned green beans, plus I think the canning process concentrates the beans flavor. It's what I grew up with. I also had lots of cans of diced tomatoes....confession #2: I don't can my own tomatoes. It's a hassle, and I can't preserve them as cheaply as I can buy my favorite local brand Red Gold. When I can tomatoes, it's always in condiment form: salsa, ketchup, barbecue sauce. But I leave plain canned tomatoes to the Red Gold people. So then I decided to make a dish my fellow Michigan Lady Food Blogger Joan made a few years ago at one of our get togethers. She called it Maan's Beans. The recipe originally came from her Lebanese neighbor Maan who lived by her back when she lived next to Frog Holler Farm. Evidently Maan's beans are famous there, too, because a recipe shows up for them on their website as well. That's how I found the Arabic name for them - Lubiyeh. They are so delicious!
The trick to making these beans is to not skimp on the garlic. My version calls for 2 heads (not cloves) of garlic. Also, they take a long time to cook - the long, slow cooking mellows the garlic and will make your house smell wonderful. They can be made on the stove top, but I found that it works best to make them in a lidded pot in a slow oven - no stirring required. The best part about this recipe is that it's essentially zero Weight Watchers points, if you are counting them.
1 onion, chopped
4 15 oz. cans French cut green beans, drained
4 15 oz. cans petite diced tomatoes (do not drain)
2 small cans tomato paste
2 heads garlic, cloves peeled and smashed
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a dutch oven or other lidded heavy pan, sauté onion in olive oil until soft. Add all ingredients (except salt and pepper) and cook in a 250 F oven for 5 hours or until the garlic is soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. This can be served on pita bread as a dip, or over rice for a meal.
There were no leftovers to bring home - everyone kept eating helping after helping with our holiday ham. Sure, it wasn't traditional, but it was great to have a vegetable to eat that wasn't laden with cream sauce but still tasted rich and flavorful. I need to make this more often....thanks to Joan for the inspiration! I don't get to see her anymore now that she has moved to Japan, but we still consider her a Michigan Lady Food Blogger.