Spicy Braised Green Beans with Feta are my welcome home to my tiny, well-cherished, and recently abandoned kitchen. In a 22 night span, Ben and I spent only five in our own bed. We’ve slept in six cities, driven 3,592 miles, and consumed more calories than the average Cheesecake Factory serves on a Friday night. It’s good to be back in my own kitchen again.

 Spicy Braised Green Beans with Feta

Don’t get me wrong—I’ve loved our travels and the friends, sites, and foods that have come along with them. From our quad-state Christmas piled high with real-deal Kansas City barbeque, homemade ravioli, and my Grammy’s cooking, to our fish taco-stuffed week in San Diego, to our Tennessee barbeque, pizza, and other-wise deep-fried weekend in Nashville, we have lived and eaten well these past three weeks. I found new flavors while visiting old friends, and I hope to share many of them with you here.

The end of a long stint of traveling leaves me with mixed emotions. I’m looking forward to finally taking down our Christmas tree (embarrassing) and sticking around long enough to finish a gallon of milk, but I also miss the sense of abandon that traveling gives me. Vacation is an opportunity to experience the new, to be excessive, and to postpone healthy habits until we return home to reality.

Braised Green Beans with Feta and Tomatoes // Well-Plated

Home for me is the kitchen, and as I reflect back upon the tastes of our travels, I want to bring the excitement and spice of trying a new restaurant or regional specialty to my kitchen. Though I’ll never be able to recreate the magic of legit barbeque served up in a Kansas City gas station, I can capture a sense of uniqueness with my cooking. Spicy Braised Green Beans with Feta are the first dish I made upon returning to Madison, and they proved to be an ideal culinary bridge between vacation and “real life.”

Feta Green BeansBraising is a fancy-sounding culinary technique that essentially means first cooking something on high heat, then reducing the heat, sealing it, and allowing it to cook slowly in its own yummy juices. The benefits of slow cooking are that the flavors have a long time to develop, and tougher vegetables or cuts of meat tenderize beautifully. Braising is also an easy way to transform an otherwise plain ingredient (green beans) into a complexly flavored dish.

Green beans suffer from neglect. We boil them up, then shove them limply into the shadow of whatever main dish (usually meat) is in the spotlight. I think it’s a shame because crunchy, vitamin-rich green beans have serious potential. With the help of tomatoes, onions, and harissa (a spicy middle-eastern chili paste), Spicy Braised Green Beans with Feta elevate the green bean from a vegetable our mothers once forced us to eat into a side dish worth a second helping. Parsley adds freshness and feta cheese provides saltiness and creaminess.

Plus, cheese is never a bad choice. Life motto.

Spicy Braised Green Beans with Feta and Tomatoes

To ensure the green beans become tender and flavorful in a manageable amount of time (traditional braising can take hours), I added a pinch of baking soda to the recipe. With a bit of this old-kitchen standby, our green beans are perfectly tender (but NOT mushy, ew) and complexly flavored with only 40 minutes of oven time. Fist pump for chemistry!

I braised the green beans in my new favorite kitchen piece: the Anolon Nouvelle Copper Stainless 6.5 Quart Stockpot. Besides being easy on the eyes (yes, I’m shallow enough to rate the attractiveness of my cookware), it conducts heat masterfully and safely transitions from stovetop to oven, making it the perfect vessel for my Spicy Braised Green Beans with Feta.

To celebrate new beginnings in January, I’m teaming up with Anolon and eight fellow bloggers to giveaway a shiny new 11 piece Anolon Nouvelle Copper Cookware Set! To enter the giveaway, use the widget below and complete as many or as few entries as you prefer (a comment is required, but every other action will just increases your chances to win this fab prize.) Please be patient as the widget may take a few moments to load.


Psst! For additional chances to win (and more goodness), check out these fabulous recipes from participating bloggers:

 

Spicy Braised Green Beans with Feta: the oven does the work; you reap the benefits. Goodbye mushy green beans, and hello Mediterranean flavor fest!

Spicy Braised Green Beans with Feta {Anolon 11-piece Cookware Giveaway}

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
1 hr
Total Time:
1 hr 15 mins
Tender, flavorful green beans cooked in a spicy Mediterranean tomato, garlic, and harissa sauce, topped with feta cheese. Good bye mushy, boring green beans, hello healthy and flavor-packed side dish! Even picky eaters will ask for seconds.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion — finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic — 4 cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans — trimmed and cut into 2 to 3-inch lengths
  • 1 tablespoon  tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon  harissa paste*
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with their liquid — (14.5 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Instructions

  1. Place rack in lower middle of oven and preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Heat olive oil in a large, ovenproof Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add water, baking soda, and green beans and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, harissa, diced tomatoes in their liquid, salt, and pepper.
  2. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened and the green beans are soft, 40 to 50 minutes. Stir in parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with feta cheese.

Recipe Notes

Harissa paste is available at specialty food stores, Asian markets, and some grocery stores, as well as online. If you cannot find it, try substituting garlic chili paste with a pinch of ground cumin and ground coriander. It will not be an exact replica, but your green beans will still be delicious.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean
Keyword: Easy Side Dish, Spicy Braised Green Beans with Feta

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