Green Beans with Tomato Sauce and Bacon
These long-simmered green beans in tomato sauce with bacon are an Italian-American favorite. The long, slow cooking is really essential to achieving the right texture and flavor. Although I’ve specified the amount of water in cups, when cooking with tomato paste my mother always measured water by the can. This dish would have had five tomato paste cans of water. She didn’t quite fill them to the top so each can held about 5 1/2 ounces of water, or a little over three cups total. You may need to add more water, or to boil some away, to get a thick sauce.
Servings Prep Time
8people 25minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
8people 25minutes
Cook Time
  1. Cut the bacon into matchstick-sized pieces.
  2. Mince the garlic.
  3. In a heavy-bottomed pot, large enough to ultimately hold the beans, gently sauté the bacon until golden brown.
  4. Add the minced garlic to the bacon and bacon drippings and sauté until fragrant and just beginning to turn golden, about one minute.
  5. Add the tomato paste and sauté until it turns a shade darker and smells sweet.
  6. Add the water, stirring to combine. Cover and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce to a simmer. Add salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste, oregano and sugar. Simmer, partially covered, for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Meanwhile, cut the tips off the beans at a diagonal. Cut the beans into pieces about 2 to 2 ½ inches long, also on the diagonal.
  9. Wash the beans in several changes of cold water. Cover with water and allow the beans to soak for 15 to 20 minutes, to fully plump up with water before cooking.
  10. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water (at least 4 quarts of water and ¼ cup of salt) to a boil.
  11. Drain the beans, add to the boiling water, and return to a boil as quickly as possible.
  12. Boil until the beans are just beginning to get tender, approximately 4 minutes. They will cook much longer in the sauce so be careful not to overcook them at this point.
  13. Drain the beans and add to the tomato sauce, which should have been cooking for 45-60 minutes by this point.
  14. Simmer until the beans are silky, but not mushy. This can take 2 hours, plus or minus. Go by texture, not time. The beans should be silky but still have some body.
  15. Taste once or twice while cooking and adjust salt, pepper and, if you wish, oregano.
Recipe Notes

You can make the sauce and partially cook the beans in advance. After the beans have been boiled, quickly chill them in a bowl of ice water. Cool the cooked sauce to room temperature.  Drain and add the partially cooked beans to the sauce.  Refrigerate until ready to complete cooking.

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