Before meeting my husband green bean casserole was that back of the soup can label stuff that used canned green beans, canned mushroom soup, canned fried onions and a little milk. Now, I’m as much a sucker for mushy, blood-pressure raising, bloat-inducing side dishes as anyone, but my husband has introduced me to a much healthier and just as tasty alternative.
Where he grew up, green beans were the foot-long variety you find in Asian groceries and they were cooked in a pressure cooker until they surrendered any firmness they had left. While this is also, not bad, I like my husband’s version better these days and you can use any green bean or haricot vert you find in the market.
1 lb. steak ( any cut of beef or lamb that responds better to grilling) chopped into one inch dice
3 cans of chopped tomatoes with juice
1 can of tomato sauce
juice from two lemons
One head of garlic, peeled and finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
Start by cubing the steak pieces and washing and trimming the ends off the green beans. Cut the green beans into halves or thirds depending on how long they are. You’re shooting for 3 inch pieces. Salt and pepper the steak pieces then saute them until they are brown on all sides and remove to a plate. Cover with foil to keep the steak warm.
In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat add the garlic and green beans. Saute for a few minutes, then add chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce. Cover and cook for about ten minutes, stirring once after about five minutes. Add lemon juice and correct salt and pepper to your taste. Cover and cook for another five minutes, then open and stir again. Continue cooking until the sauce is done. You’ll know the sauce is done when you no longer taste any of the can taste from the tomatoes or the bitterness of the lemons. Another way to say this is that the flavors have “married”, which means you don’t taste any of the individual ingredients, but rather a good mix of all of them. At this point, add back the steak pieces and any juices that collected on the plate. Stir until the meat is coated with sauce and warmed through. Serve with basmati rice.
Variations: This dish works just as well with ground beef, sausage, turkey or lamb. If you like or are trying to reduce your carb intake, you can keep the green beans whole, use Italian sausage links that you’ve sliced and sauteed until they are cooked all the way through, make the sauce the same way, then when serving sprinkle with your favorite salty cheese (parmesan, feta, asiago). If you go this route, use one less lemon.
You could also use a cut of steak like flank or London broil, grill it, let it rest to redistribute it’s juices while you make the sauce, slice it and layer it over the beans and sauce.