A deliciously simple Lebanese recipe to try with your kids from acclaimed chef and food writer Anissa Helou, combining fine green beans in a rich, garlicky tomato sauce
The other day I happened to catch Anissa Helou being interviewed on Radio 4’s Start the Week. She spoke of her childhood in Beirut, and of learning about food simply by spending time in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother, watching, tasting and learning almost without realising. It struck me that it is this process of “learning by osmosis” in childhood, swiping a piece of something from the chopping board or dipping a sticky finger in the sauce, that’s so crucial if children are to develop a healthy understanding of food and cookery.
I’m always keen for my kids to be more adventurous with food, so I wrote to Anissa and she very kindly sent me this recipe. She says it is special not only because it takes her back to those times spent in the kitchen as a child, but because it’s also the first recipe she ever cooked herself. What makes it such a lovely dish is that although simple it’s still packed with flavour, as well as being healthy, low-cost and vegetarian. Neve practically made it by herself and, served with homemade flatbreads and grilled halloumi cheese, both children absolutely wolfed it down.
- 350g fine green beans
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 x 400g can cherry tomatoes
- Top and tail and wash the beans (feel free to chop them up if you think your children will be more likely to eat them this way)
- Finely chop the onion (see How to Chop an Onion) and garlic
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and gently cook the onion and garlic for a few minutes, then add the beans and continue to cook for another few minutes, stirring frequently
- Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and continue to cook with the lid on for around 20 minutes until the beans are tender
- Serve hot or cold with homemade flatbreads (I used Jamie Oliver’s Flatbread Recipe and baked them instead of frying) and grilled halloumi or feta cheese