My grandmother, Yeranuhe Genjian-Vartanesian, – as well as
all of my grandparents – came from humble beginnings. Yeranuhe Nanny came from
the mountains of Musa Dagh, Syria. She was one of the fortunate Armenians who found
her way to America in 1921 where, upon arrival to Ellis Island, she married my
grandfather, Oskan Vartanesian. (Sadly, how and when he arrived in America is not exactly known.)
Nanny could take ordinary ingredients, put them together in such a way that would make you beg for more. When she cooked, everything was made from scratch, down to making her own red pepper paste. Luckily, today we can take some shortcuts with results that are just as pleasing.
Yeranuhe Nanny’s Stovetop Green Beans and Potatoes
Here is a modern take on one of Nanny’s humble dishes -Stovetop Green Beans with
Stovetop Green Beans with Potatoes
Serves 4 to 5
Ingredients for Stovetop Green Beans with Potatoes
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium-sized sweet onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. ground sumac
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. dried mint, crushed
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes with its liquid
3 Tbsp. red pepper paste mixed into 1 cup of water (Note: tomato paste with a tsp. of paprika may be substituted for the red pepper paste)
1 to 1 ½ lbs. fresh French (thin) green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half (FYI: Frozen green beans are a good substitute!)
4 to 6 small red skinned potatoes, washed, unpeeled, cut into quarters (If larger potatoes are used, cut them into smaller chunks.)
lemon juice, optional
Garnish: chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley (thick stems removed); lemon wedges or slices – pits removed
In a large pot, heat 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and a dash of salt; cook, stirring now and then, until onions begin to soften (about 5 mins). Add the garlic, allspice, cumin, sumac, oregano and mint. Cook – and – stir a few more minutes.
Green beans and potatoes simmering away!
Add tomatoes with liquid, pepper paste diluted in water, green
beans, and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine
Increase the heat until mixture starts to boil gently.
Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and cook about 20 minutes, or until green beans and potatoes are fork-tender; stir occasionally.
Important tip: About 10 minutes into the cooking process, check to see if more water needs to be added. Add a small amount at a time, if necessary, and stir.
Before serving, adjust seasonings, if desired.
Transfer green beans and potatoes to a serving bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges or slices.
Serve with your favorite crusty bread.
Click here to read about Hatz Baboog (literal translation: Bread Grandfather) who delivered our favorite bread right to our home!