Top and tail your beans, and string them if you’re using runners. Green beans should be cut in half, runners cut on the diagonal into 2in (5cm) striplets. Now blanch them in boiling water for about 4 minutes and set to drain.
Heat a knob of butter in a pan and throw in the onion: once it has softened add the tomatoes and garlic, turn the heat down, and leave them to sweat a little. After about 5 minutes, add your green beans and sweat stuff a little more before taking it off the heat.
Whisk the rest of the ingredients together. Check the seasoning—you may need to add salt, although harissa paste is usually well seasoned. Stir the dressing gently through the beans and then leave the whole thing to cool. You can serve this hot or cold, but it is undoubtedly at its best at room temperature or above.
Green beans have never been so exciting.
Serves: 4 as side dish
"To start: a confession. I find green beans awfully boring. There—I said it; years of pretense off my chest with just a few taps on the keyboard. Green beans are the worst—they are inevitably served either over-cooked or under-cooked and taste of, well, water. Runner beans at least have flavor of their own, but are still in need of a little tarting up, methinks.
Al dente is an unheard-of concept in the Middle East, where food trendiness is something that happens over millennia and not over the Sunday newspapers, and food is cooked just the way it is. And so these beans are properly cooked, and then left to sit around in the sauce while the flavors mingle." Sally Butcher
Reprinted with permission from "The New Middle Eastern Vegetarian" by Sally Butcher, published by Interlink Books
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