Green beans stewed with cumin, tomatoes, onions, bell pepper. Great side for Thanksgiving or any dinner party.
I’m old enough to remember the comings and goings of lots of food trends. One I’m particularly glad is well behind us by about 25 years is undercooked vegetables. If you don’t recall dining in the mid 1980s, let’s just say that we all struggled through many restaurant meals serving entrees circled with carefully placed mealy black beans and artfully arranged, but difficult to chew, baby carrots, patty pan squash, and hericot vert. The colors were lovely and bright, but the crunchy, bland vegetables always had an estranged relationship with everything else on the plate. We tried to learn to like these unfriendly sides by snubbing anything even slightly limp.
What a funny waste of time.
Who knew scummy looking foams were in our future. That undercooked trend is over, but the remnants of shame still rush back whenever I’m cooking green beans to a nice olive drab. Of course, the South has known all along that “overcooked,” meat and three vegetables taste good. Thankfully, I moved from Chicago to Nashville 20 years ago just in time to reinstate country cooking (and Jack Daniel’s) back in my life. Thanks also go to my neighbor Raj who rehabilitated my vegetable sense with his signature mix of sauteed onion, garlic, and ginger with pinches of spice that he uses to expertly season all kinds of fragrant vegetarian stews. Creole Cumin Green Beans is inspired by both kinds of cooking, the country-style Creole red and green beans recipe in our Cooking with Jack book that Lynne Tolley serves at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House, combined with a good pinch of cumin and hot pepper flakes ala Raj. I’d seriously consider these instead of green bean casserole this Thanksgiving.
- 1 pound to 1 1/2 pounds green beans (frozen work great)
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
- 1 small to medium red or green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Dried red pepper flakes, to taste
- Cook the green beans in boiling salted water in a large saucepan until tender, or according to the package directions if using frozen. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan or medium Dutch oven. Add the cumin seeds and cooked until fragrant, about a minute or two.
- Add the bell pepper and onion. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes more.
- Stir in the tomatoes and green beans. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Simmer about 10 minutes.