Greek green bean stew with potatoes, or fasolakia ladera me patates, is a one-pot Greek meal that is made with fresh green beans, potatoes, olive oil, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, water and a few basic seasonings like salt and pepper. You will not believe how delicious a few simple ingredients can be.
This recipe uses a simple, Greek peasant-like style of cooking, producing a meal which falls into the category of dishes known as lathera. Lathi means oil in Greek and lathera implies oily. In these dishes, which are usually vegetarian and stew-like, ingredients are cooked in an abundance of olive oil and often with the addition of tomato and herbs, or other flavorings, like garlic. When serving these green beans and potatoes, be sure to add some of the delicious oil and tomato-based sauce to each plate.
There are many other recipes which can be classified as lathera; these include stewed green peas (Αρακάς λαδερός με ντομάτα), greek okra stewed in tomato sauce (Bamies latheres me domata) and stewed Swiss chard with vegetables and feta (Σέσκουλα γιαχνί με λαχανικά και φέτα)
Why I love this recipe
Some meal preparations lend themselves to teamwork. My mother would make this simple, wholesome and economical dish of green beans and potatoes about once every couple of weeks, and each time she would invite me and my siblings to join her as she prepared the beans for cooking. We would sit with her at the kitchen table (which was, of course, covered in plastic) faced with a bowl full of green beans. One by one, we would take the beans, and carefully snip off each end. The trimmed ends would collect in a pile on the table, and the beans would be placed in a colander, to later be washed.
Alone, our mother probably could have gotten through the beans in about 5 minutes. With us helping, it easily took half an hour. Looking back, it is clear that she purposefully set a very slow pace, to keep us at that table with her for as long as possible. We didn’t mind, especially because this was a pretty mindless task. And because it was mindless, it allowed our minds to wander to other things. During these bean trimming sessions we would talk about our previous days events, our day so far, and our days to come. Also, it always seemed easier to broach sensitive topics when everyone’s eyes and attention appeared to be focused on the task at hand. We had some great conversations over green beans; lovely bonding moments. As children, we actually didn’t love eating this dish, but we certainly loved helping to prepare it.
Cooking tips and helpful hints
The green beans are the star of this dish, so it is best to use the freshest, most delicious beans you can find. The recipe below asks that you trim your green beans, which simply means snipping off each end, and discarding it. Particularly long beans can also be cut in two.
My parents use their own homemade tomato sauce in this dish; the recipe for homemade tomato sauce has been posted. If you have your own homemade tomato sauce, use that. If not, use any good quality tomato sauce or passata that you can find.
Different types of beans
There are many different types of green beans, and some work better in this Greek recipe for stewed green beans with potatoes than others. I will describe the two varieties of green beans which are traditionally used in this recipe.
Green beans (also called snap beans or string beans)
These are long, rounded and green beans which may have a string running along one side which should be removed before cooking. The easiest way to do this is to snip off one end and pull down before the end is completely snipped off. Some varieties of these beans which are sold in stores will have had this fibrous thread bred out of them, but in heirloom varieties, they will still be present.
Romano beans (also called Italian green beans or flat beans)
As the name implies, these beans are flat and very flavourful (they are pictured above). The smaller they are, the more tender they will be. They have more flavour than string beans, but also take longer to cook. At the same time they hold up well to long braising, making them ideal in my opinion, for recipes like stewed green beans and potatoes.
Like so much of traditional Greek cooking, there are no complicated ingredients required here. A few simple things come together to create a wonderful meal.
Green beans – When possible use good quality fresh green beans. Traditionally you should use string beans (also called snap beans) or Romano beans (also called Italian green beans or flat beans) which are pictured above.
Onion – I use yellow onion because their flavour and texture stand up well to cooking, and because they are so readily available.
Olive oil – I only use Greek olive oil for its flavour and fragrance; for me, nothing else compares.
Garlic – I try to find garlic that still has its roots attached, and which has been grown locally.
Tomato sauce – A good quality tomato sauce or passata is essential here; I use my homemade tomato sauce whenever possible.
Water – Regular tap water will do
Potatoes – Any white or yellow fleshed potatoes will work here; I tend to prefer Yukon Gold potatoes however.
Salt & Pepper – Basic seasonings that are essential to most savoury recipes.
How to make it
Trim your green beans and then wash them well. Set aside.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté your onion and garlic, stirring constantly so that they do not burn. After a few moments (when your onion has just begun to get translucent), add the green beans to the pot. Stir well.
After stirring in the green beans, add to the pot the tomato juice or sauce, water, potatoes, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
Cover the pot and allow to cook over medium heat for approximately 50 – 60 minutes. Be sure to shake the contents of your pot every 15 minutes or so. You should also check your pot occasionally and give the contents a stir; there should always be liquid present in the pot. If there is not, add more water, 1/2 cup at a time.
Use frozen green beans
When fresh green beans are not available this recipe can be made with frozen green beans. There is no need to thaw them. Simply add the frozen beans to the pot as directed in the recipe; you may need to increase the cooking time. You should also decrease the amount of water you add to the pot by a tablespoon or two as the frozen beans will release liquid as they cook.
Frequently asked questions
Should green beans be soaked before cooking?
Nope! Green beans do not need to be soaked before cooking. Simply add them directly to your pot for cooking. I do like to rinse them well first however.
Can stewed green beans with potatoes be frozen?
Yes, it can although the texture of the vegetables may change when you thaw and reheat it. If you do decide to freeze this meal, remove as much air as possible from the packaging or container.
Sometimes I add large chunks of zucchini to this dish; my parents do this too when the zucchini is fresh from the garden. If you decide to add some zucchini, simply cut it into chunks, unpeeled, and add the pieces to the pot after you add your beans; set your zucchini on top of the beans. This way, the zucchini will steam as they cook. This is a delicious addition to an already great dish, and definitely worth a try. Or, you can decide to use your zucchini to make zucchini chips, also a good idea ;).
Add chicken, and bake it
Using many of the same ingredients, you can make a variation of this meal by adding chicken and then cooking this recipe in the oven as opposed to on the stovetop. You can find the complete recipe here for green beans baked with chicken and potatoes.
How to serve
This meal, by itself, is a nutritious and filling lenten and vegan option. If you are eating dairy however, I suggest adding a nice hunk of feta to your plate at serving time. The feta, along with some fresh bread and a variety of olives, turns this wonderful, but humble dish, into a feast.
If you are looking for more traditional Greek vegetarian recipes, I think you will love these
Fried eggplant in tomato sauce – The best way to describe this recipe is luxurious! The eggplant becomes soft and caramelized – it is SO good.
Aginares à la polita – I use frozen artichoke hearts in order to pull this recipe together quickly. It is vibrant, fresh and really filling.
Palikaria (or Polysporia or Fotokolyva) – Traditionally this recipe is made on the eve of the Epiphany, but really it can be made any time. It is a filling and hearty salad made with beans and wheat berries.
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Green beans with potatoes
- sauce pot
- 730 grams green beans
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 cup tomato sauce or passata
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 3 potatoes, peeled quarter each potato
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- Trim your green beans and then wash them well. Set aside.730 grams green beans
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté your onion and garlic, stirring constantly so that they do not burn. After a few moments (when your onion has just begun to get translucent), add the green beans to the pot. Stir well.1 yellow onion, 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 garlic cloves
- After stirring in the green beans, add to the pot the tomato juice or sauce, water, potatoes, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.1 cup tomato sauce or passata, 2 1/2 cups water, 3 potatoes, peeled, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- Cover the pot and allow to cook over medium heat for approximately 50 – 60 minutes. Be sure to shake the contents of your pot every 15 minutes or so. You should also check your pot occasionally and give the contents a stir; there should always be liquid present in the pot. If there is not, add more water, 1/2 cup at a time.
- Enjoy this meal with some bread, feta cheese and a side of some olives.