Tuesday, May 26, 2009
My mother used to hum a little ditty when we were kids, a catchy tune. The words went something like this:
Yer-goo-shap-tee, Fa-ssoul-ia (repeat)
Then the chorus:
Fa-ssoul-ia- ia,- ia
Translation: Monday, beans.
I recall my brother & I laughing and dancing to the chorus!
When my mother was young, she & the other Armenian children in the Paterson, N.J. area had Armenian classes 3 afternoons a week. Their teacher, Nevart (Bakalian) Hajian, traveled from distant Newark to Paterson to teach them the language, songs and dances of Armenia.
The song mentioned above taught the days of the week. Each day was associated with a food, so this song cleverly served two purposes.
One of my all-time-favorite fassoulia recipes is green beans with ground lamb. To lighten the recipe, we sometimes use ground turkey, which turns out to be a suitable substitute.
Vegetarians will be happy to know this recipe translates well without any meat.
Fassoulia - Green Beans with Ground Meat
Yield: 6 servings
1 lb. ground, lamb, beef or turkey
2 Tbsp. oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp. allspice
1 tsp. crushed dried basil
1 tsp. crushed dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
2lb. Fresh or frozen green beans or Italian pole beans (If using fresh green beans, trim the ends, and cut into 1 inch pieces)
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
3 oz. tomato paste, diluted in 1 cup water or stock
1. In a non-stick skillet, brown meat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Drain any excess fat. Place meat in a bowl & set aside.
2. Using the same skillet, saute the onions in olive oil until soft and slightly brown.
3. Return the meat to the skillet with the onions. Add salt, pepper, allspice, basil, oregano, and garlic. Cover & cook 10 more minutes.
3. In a large pot, add the green beans. Pour the canned tomatoes, and the diluted tomato paste over the green beans; stir.
4. Add the meat mixture to the green beans. Mix together.
5. Bring to a gentle boil, then cover and simmer for 1 hour, or until beans are tender. Add a little more water or stock, as needed.
6. Serve with rice or bulgur pilaf.
SPECIAL NOTE: The fassoulia tastes even better the next day, after the flavors have a chance to intensify. Oh yes, a loaf of crusty bread goes great with this, too!
NOTE: If making this without meat, this dish can be served cold or at room temperature.
BONUS! Click How to make Fassoulia to see the video on YouTube!