Many years ago, I lived and worked at a small farm called Camp Joy Gardens,
nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The farm took on a slough of apprentices
in those days, and after long, hot mornings working in the gardens we would
gather around a long table and eat and talk and eat some more.
Every summer, we grew an extra bed of cucumbers for one of the neighbors,
Antoine. He was a terrific cook, and had a fondness for a certain type of
cucumber. Every few days in June and early July he would come over to check on
his cucs, always stepping carefully among the vines; he said crushing them
would make the cucumbers bitter.
Antoine was a generous man and grateful for the cucumber-love. To show his
appreciation for our efforts, when the first crop of green beans came in, he
would come to the farm with a gallon of wine and a big smile. We cleared the
kitchen and set up tables in a shady spot outside. He cooked his special green
beans for our whole dirty, boisterous crew, and we would sit for hours,
enjoying the food and each other. It was always one of the best days of summer.
- 1 lb. green beans
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1/4 to 1/3 c. olive oil
- 3/4 c. tomato sauce
- 1/2 t. sugar
- salt to taste
- 1 cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek style or whole milk (if no whole milk plain is available, use 3/4 c. low-fat mixed with 1/4 c. of sour cream)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Wash and top the beans. Leave them whole unless they are really big, in which
case cut to 3" pieces. Saute the onion over low heat in the olive oil until
soft, 7-10 minutes. Add the beans and cook for five minutes, stirring
frequently. Meanwhile, chop or press the garlic into a small bowl, and mix in
the yogurt. Salt it to taste and set aside. Then add the tomato sauce, sugar,
salt to taste, and 1/2. c. water to the beans. Stir well, reduce heat, and then
cover and cook until tender. Taste for salt.
Serve the beans in bowls, with plenty of the tomato sauce. Top with the
garlicky yogurt, and serve with crusty bread.