Dinner Tonight: String Beans with Tomato, Olive, and Garlic

As summer vegetable season draws to a close, I'm finding late-season produce still available at the market, and it needs a little more attention in the kitchen.

Tomatoes aren't quite as glorious raw with a little basil. At this point, their flavor needs some heat and coaxing to emerge, perhaps as a tomato sauce. String beans, as well, are a bit tougher and need stewing. When I bought two kilos of yellow string beans recently, which were a bit old and tough, I turned to an Italian recipe made just for them.

Green beans with tomato sauce is a relatively common pairing in Italy. I started with a recipe from Lidia Bastianich's Italian-American Kitchen, but also turned to The Silver Spoon and liked the idea of adding chopped onion, a few olives, and leftover basil. The emerging dish was no groundbreaker, but it was classic and comforting and a good honest use of my beans.

About the author: Blake Royer lives in Brooklyn and spends most of his free time cooking and writing about it here at Serious Eats and on The Paupered Chef. From 9 to 5 weekdays, he works as an assistant book editor in Manhattan.

Dinner Tonight: String Beans with Tomato, Olive, and Garlic

About This Recipe

Yield:6 as a side


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 1 pound string beans, ends trimmed
  • 1/4 cup green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 5 or 6 basil leaves, chopped


  1. 1

    Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about three minutes. Add the sliced garlic and red pepper flakes if using, then continue cooking until the onion is soft and the garlic just begins to brown.

  2. 2

    Add the beans to the skillet and toss with tongs until beans begin to wilt. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

  3. 3

    Add the chopped tomatoes and olives and a little of the canned tomato juice to avoid dryness. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes begin to form a sauce. (Add juice from the canned tomatoes as needed if it dries out).

  4. 4

    Taste the beans periodically. When they are soft (about ten minutes), throw in the basil to wilt for a minute, then serve.

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