A Happy Easter Recipe

A sweet little side dish recipe to go with your Easter dinner today. Popular Greek Recipes. Buy at Amazon.com

One of my oldest and bestest friends from Spamtown is a first-generation American of Greek heritage (or, actually, generation 1.5; his dad immigrated around the time of the Greek civil war; his mom was native-born) . His family founded the legendary George's Pizza.

Mmmm, greasy pizza cut into little squares. Heaven on earth. And Uncle Dino's Gondola truly was the "Noblest Sandwich of Them All."

One of my treasured possessions is a wedding gift from George and Ethel T (you are both missed), Popular Greek Recipes, published by The Ladies of the Philoptochos Society, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Charleston SC. I've used this cookbook a lot over the years. It is my go-to recipe place for satziki, avgolemono soup, mousaka, pastichio, and today's recipe, fasoulakia yiahni, string beans in tomato sauce.

I will start with a faithful rendition of the recipe (p.186), then discuss modifications below.


2 lbs string beans 1 large or 2 med. onions, chopped
3/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil 1 can tomato sauce
2 tsp. salt dash of pepper chopped parsley & mint, divided use feta and lemon wedges for garnish (nonstandard)
2 potatoes, cut in quarters 1 cup water
1/4 c. chopped celery (optional) 2 carrots, sliced (optional)

The recipe is basic -- saute the onion, add the tomato sauce and simmer for 15 minutes, add the remaining ingredients and cook on low for about an hour, covered. What follows is my "value-added".

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, such as an enameled dutch oven, and saute onions until soft, about 4-5 minutes. I would add 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced, and a big pinch of red pepper flakes at this stage, plus salt and pepper (cut the salt in half; you can add more to taste later). Saute for a minute. Add the tomato sauce. I would substitute a large can of crushed tomatoes, or use a small can of crushed tomatoes and a half-jar of plain spaghetti sauce. You want some chunk to the sauce. Add half of the parsley and mint, or substitute oregano if you don't like mint. If you are using oregano, add one cinnamon stick. Simmer for about 15 minutes. You can remove the cinnamon stick at this point, or leave it in if you like a stronger cinnamon flavor to the sauce.

fasolakia by SpirosK, some rights reservedNow add the potatoes (I would rough-chop into chunks rather than quarter), carrots, celery and water. Simmer for 5 minutes. If the sauce is "tight", add another cup of water. Then add the green beans on top. Lower the heat and cover. Cook slowly for 20-25 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender (or about an hour to be "authentic"). The beans should be soft. Stir in the remaining herbs and serve with good bread, a sprinkling of feta, and a lemon wedge.

This makes a great side dish for roasted leg of lamb, roast chicken, or baked ham. And it can be the centerpiece of a vegetarian feast.

Happy holiday to all.

18 thoughts on “A Happy Easter Recipe”

  1. George's Pizza is the best pizza in Austin. Some people swear by Steve's Pizza, but I found their sauce sweet and the crust would get soggy so morning leftovers was a chore to eat

    1. Steve worked for George. There was a somewhat acrimonious split between the two at the end of the '70s, when Steve set up his own shop. I had to walk a fine line between friends in order to frequent both places.

      leftovers? I don't think I ever experienced leftovers.

  2. Sounds tasty. Are you happy with your enameled dutch oven? What brand did you get? (If you don't mind sharing.)

    1. ubes, I've had my eye on one at Costco for some time, but don't actually have one. I used my plain ol' cast iron pot. Waay back when, I bought a cheap set at a store in Champaign (Meijer, mebbe??). Like this one from Lodge but with a simpler, steel wire handle, and not from Lodge (I think).

      I use this pot for making dals and curries, for baking no-kneed bread, etc., etc. Virtually indestructable.

      I probably paid about $40 for a whole set, although I really only use the large frying pan and this pot (there also was a small frying pan, and, I think, two smaller pots -- 1- and 2-qt, maybe? -- with handles), plus a Lodge cast-iron grill pan bought subsequently.

      1. Cool. Good to know. I probably won't be able to talk my fiancee out of putting one of these on the registry, in fact, she's so set on it that it's probably not worth discussing, but it's good to know the options if/when the lofty goals don't come to fruition.

        I am really digging my cheap cast-iron fry pan these days. Nothing quite like frying up some bacon in the cast iron.

        1. [Homer Simpson drooling]

          Do they have something in-between the 5-quart and the 13 1/4 quart? I think the 5-quart is a little small.

          Lodge has 6- and 7.5-quart sizes, for a lot less than the Le Creuset.

          1. I'm a big Lodge fan, but she's got her heart set on a Le Creuset dutch oven, so arguing against it is probably not a wise move. If it's not gifted to us, though, then I can probably get Lodge back into the picture. (I like that Lodge is made in the US, too.)

            Le Creuset has options coming it at roughly 3, 5, 7, 9, and 13 quarts. I'm sure it's overpriced, but I've gotta pick my spots and all that.

            1. Also, since I'm still young, I like that the cast iron cookware is heavy--I need something to challenge my muscles after being chained to a desk all day.

              1. And then when you're old(er) with bad joints, you get to curse yourself for getting something so danged heavy.

                1. By then I will be rich, famous, and will have a team of top chefs to cook for me. Not that I would need them, as I will age gracefully and without physical deterioration. [/youthful optimism]

                  1. I really, really, really want to get a cast iron pot/dutch oven, but haven't gotten around to it. I've really only embraced the cast iron fry pans over the last 3-4 months, and I'm mad at myself for waiting for so long.

                    1. Speaking of eggs, I made my first ever frittata the other day. Went with spinach, tomato, green onions and goat cheese. I can't believe I've never made these things before.

            2. I've gotta pick my spots and all that.

              You are a wise man.

              I recognized early on that our wedding wasn't about me. It was really about her and her mother. The only place I really exercised my will was in insisting on no flowers & sh!t on the eating area of the everdaywear plates. She could pick any pattern of decoration and colors she wanted, as long as the central area was clear. I actually won on that. Everything else -- Not my show.*

              *well, except for the chuppah. I'm about 6'4"-plus in dress shoes. The chuppah at the temple only extended up to 6'6" maximum, and it was weighed down with about a quarter ton of flowers and foliage, dripping on me and grazing my head. I whined about that.

              1. Yeah, I didn't do a lot of interjecting of my opinion on many things related to the arrangements, not that I particularly cared about colors or flowers anyway. The one thing I did get to be in charge of was selecting the one keg of good beer we allowed ourselves. I went with the New Glarus Staghorn.

                Other than that, yeah, it definitely wasn't about me.

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