Italian Green Beans with Pancetta and Braised Garlic
Flat, Italian-style green beans taste quite similar to their more familiar counterpart, the string bean, but have a somewhat softer texture. They hold up well to long cook times and this recipe is a perfect example. It combines the sweetness of braised garlic, fruity olive oil and salty pancetta for a full-flavored side dish.
- 1-1/2 lbs Italian-style flat green beans (pole beans)
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 lb pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Peel the garlic and slice the cloves lengthwise into 4 to 6 slivers. Place them in a small covered saucepan and add the olive oil. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes until tender and sweet. Do not brown.
While the garlic braises, fry the pancetta in a large skillet until barely crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion and continue cooking until it is soft and translucent, about 2 minutes longer. Add the beans, water and red wine vinegar. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are bright green and tender.
When the garlic is done, add it to the bean mixture along with the braising oil. Toss to coat the beans thoroughly and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a greased casserole, cover and bake for 45 minutes.
Feel free to substitute regular green beans for the Italian-style if desired. You can also use thick-cut bacon in place of pancetta ~ just cut back to 2 or 3 strips so the smoke flavor doesn't overpower the sweet garlic.