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.