Long beans from Palermo

I can confirm this: Sicily is a great place for good food lovers. Such an abundance of fresh, colourful, local products like pasta, tomatoes, eggplants, basil, almonds, pistachios and wine. And actually, using only Sicilian products, you can prepare a complete and incredibly tasty feast. In Sicilian cuisines (now I know that there are many of them!), various influences mix wonderfully – dishes “typical” for Italian cuisine are diversified here with ingredients typical of the south: raisins, almonds, chickpea flour.

This year’s Sicilian holiday (I’d been dreaming about it for some time!) inspired me to look at the products I had known from a different perspective. And this is how my new favourite dish with green beans was created. Although it is not complicated, there is a lot going on on the plate: the aromatic garlic oil covers the juicy beans, the light sweetness of raisins is balanced by the sour and salty capers, and the whole dish is topped with crunchy nuts and the slightly anise-like fresh basil. I must admit that beans prepared in this way taste really great: both on a noisy balcony in Palermo, prepared for lunch, and at home in Berlin, prepared for dinner, with a glass of wine.

Lunch for two or an appetiser for four

  • 500g long beans (green, yellow or mix)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 5-6 tbsps of olive oil
  • 1 large handful of raisins
  • about 12 dried tomatoes
  • 3 tspns of pickled capers
  • 1 large handful of almonds (or a smaller handful of pine nuts)
  • fresh basil leaves
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Favourite fresh bread (preferably: crispy bread, focaccia or pita)

  1. Wash the beans, cut off the woody parts. Prepare some water in a medium-sized pot to boil the beans – add at least a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.
  2. In the meantime, roast a handful of almonds in a large frying pan for a few minutes, over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The nuts will be ready when they start to brown slightly and release a pleasant aroma. Transfer the roasted almonds onto a chopping board and chop them finely when they have cooled.
  3. Add the beans to the boiling water. Cook for 5-6 minutes, then add a large handful of raisins to the boiling beans and cook for another minute. Drain.
  4. In the pan in which the nuts were roasted, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic cloves – whole, no peeling. Let the garlic fry gently – a few minutes on each side, until it is golden brown.
  5. Remove the fried garlic from the olive oil and put it on a cutting board. Put the cooked beans and raisins into the hot oil.
  6. Cut the dried tomatoes into halves or into smaller pieces and add them to the beans along with the capers. Fry over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  7. Squeeze the fried garlic out of the skins – it should be soft and pop out easily. Mash it with a fork and add it to the frying beans.
  8. After a few moments salt the beans generously and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Try it and check their softness, saltiness and acidity.
  9. Serve with fresh basil leaves and chopped roasted nuts. It tastes best with some fresh, crispy bread. The full-bodied oil from the pan must be eaten with bread, focaccia or pita bread.