A few weeks ago one of the largest Greek Orthodox churches in Sacramento held their annual Greek Food Festival. We've attended the festival several times in the past. Although we didn't attend this latest one, my daughter and her boyfriend did. A few days later they brought us a Greek-style lunch and some goodies they got from the festival.
Sarah made some tabouleh and fasolakia to go with the loukaniko and psomi she bought at the festival. Fasolakia is a green bean stew, often including chunks of potatoes. Loukaniko is a sausage flavored with fennel seeds and orange peel. My husband's favorite! Psomi is Greek peasant bread, baked in a circle and crusted with sesame seeds. We grilled the sausage, spooned mounds of tabouleh salad on our plates, served up the fasolakia, and cut up chunks of bread to sop up the sauce with. A wonderful meal!
About a week ago, I picked up some fresh green beans at the farmer's market and a rosemary foccacia bread. We had enjoyed the fasolakia Sarah made earlier so much that I wanted to make some myself. Friends of ours were coming over for dinner that night, so I made the green beans. With the bread to dip into the flavorful sauce, I had a perfect home style Greek meal. This was the kind of meal my dad loved, with lots of vegetables & lots of broth.
A couple of notes: Greeks love vegetable stews. Their stews will often prominently feature one vegetable as opposed to an assortment of vegetables. Fasolakia features green beans. You could do the same thing, with the same seasonings, using all zucchini, or green peas, or even okra. Also, Greek people like their vegetables cooked all the way through. None of that crisp-tender stuff.
Here is the original family recipe adapted to low sodium. The combination of herbs made the sauce so flavorful that we didn't even miss the salt. Also, here is a video from the TV series we produced for our local cable access channel.
Fasolakia: Greek Stewed String Beans
A flavorsome combination of green beans stewed in a tasty tomato sauce. Simple, healthful, and delicious. A wonderful holiday alternative to the usual cream soup based green bean casseroles.
2 pounds string beans, fresh or frozen
2 onions, chopped
2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
1 - 8 ounce can NSA tomato sauce
¼ - ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1-2 teaspoons mint (or a combination of dried mint, oregano, & dill)
2 potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-2 inch chunks (any kind of potato will work)
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup water or NSA broth
Pepper to taste
In Dutch oven, sauté onion lightly in olive oil. Add tomato sauce, string beans, and remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer over medium heat for about 60 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Check after 30 minutes; add more water or broth if necessary. Serve hot or room temperature.